If graduation numbers are so important that they will give degrees to dead people,then don’t work there. LGBT scientists in academe now are highly vulnerable to the phenomena of adjunctification. A career that used to have as a common outcome finding a job which was permanent if one was objectively competent has become gig work. 

Gig work that requires a Masters or a Doctorate to get.   

In this Ylep ified Uber ified academe of the 21st century if an institution interprets “student success” and being “student focused” as having the highest number of people get degrees at all cost then relatively temporary workers of all kinds will pay the cost.  Add being a minority onto that and these rules are ones to live by.   To find out where I get these rules from please see my interview in nature Careers “How LGBT+ scientists would like to be included and welcomed in STEM workplaces.” (1)

In 2020 a theoretical astrophysicist at work means remote work.

 In 2020 a theoretical astrophysicist at work means working remotely. 

Two Don’t’s and  Two Do’s.

Don’t work for places that will give degrees to dead people if you are a transgender scientist.   
They will value the student’s perceptions of your work, or how well they do in your class over any measure of your actual work.   This is not the students’ fault.  They are powerless. This is however the fault of administrators who believe that student perceptions are all that matters.    

If half of the students only perceive you as a f***t a b***h ( at the same time.) Unless you have really strong support you will not succeed.   That such students will take you saying “please do your homework so I can give you a good grade”… as you telling them they don’t have to do it.  If the students take you asking them to solve 2x=4 for x means you don’t know how to do it… and tell the bosses that.   If those same administrators cannot see at all how being LGBT impacts those student perceptions that matter so much to them get out of there don’t waste your time.

This is a failure of that institution's policies that starts at the top and filters down.  I am referring to City Colleges of Chicago which did once give diplomas to dead people in order to keep up graduation numbers (2).  Granted they did other things which are not so objectionable, like granting an associates degree for students who transferred to 4 year colleges and full filled the requirements (3).   That said there are other forms of this.    Work for employers who have integrity.  Such places will not hire you unless they think you can do it.  They will not fire you based on students who are provably not studying. 

Do use online telemetry to keep track of student study habits.  This is a good way to both help your students do better and it can also protect you from the accusation that you are difficult or demanding.  All schools use some sort of online learning management system.  Many courses will use an online homework and study system to go along with an e-Book.  Use such a system to provide both better service to students and also to keep tabs on how they are studying. 

When students really don’t want an LGBT teacher one of the sly ways they try to go about changing that fact is to complain that you are too demanding.  One of the most common stereotypes of LGBT people is that we are demanding, and detail oriented to an unreasonable degree.  If you can show with telemetry that the students have not studied a reasonable amount of time, have not read the ebook, and have not done the very standard homework, or taken the quizzes that can turn a situation that could be bad into a chance to get help for your students. 

The goal has to be to serve students but also to stand for your own dignity and academic integrity.

Don’t put up with abuse for a paycheck or for benefits.  If you are a faculty member of any rank at any institution do not put up with abuse from anyone for the sake of having a job, getting benefits, or even getting a good reference letter.  The simple fact is there are still more jobs for people with advanced degrees in science than there are people who have them.  You will find another job if you are open minded about where to look.   Even if you do not do what you must to survive until you do find that better job.

Do appreciate your friends and colleagues especially within a bad situation.  Even in the worst situations I managed to make friends and allies out of people.  I try to keep contact with them out of a sincere value of them as a person.  You never know you who may learn from.  You never know who you may be able to help or who may help you.   Be professional at work and understand that even your direct supervisors are just cogs in a machine most of the time.  It is that machine that is the likely source of any problems not them.

It Gets Better.

A few years back I had the honor of being allowed by a fine man named Greg Ayers who spoke about how it gets better to be LGBT at Anime Midwest.  Lots of young people some who I had taught happened to be there.  I told them it gets better because you can leave bad situations as an adult.  Reflecting on my own experiences I am more convinced than ever that is true.

If you are a kid reading this and feeling like your life will be awful if the people with you in 6th -12th grade are jerks.  The truth is in a very short time, that will not feel short while you are a teen, you won’t have to see anyone from middle school or high school ever again if you don’t want.  From that moment forward, from graduation onward, you won’t have to stay in any situation, with anyone who would antagonize you.  

It gets better because as an adult you have the power to choose who will surround you much more than as a child or a teenager.    

In fact, this last point is true for any teen.


  1. Powell, Kendall, Terry, Ruth and Chen, Sophia. How LGBT+ scientists would like to be included and welcomed in STEM workplaces. Nature Careers. [Online] October 19, 2020. https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-02949-3.
  2. Strahler, Steven R. How City Colleges of Chicago inflates graduation rates. Crains Chicago Business. [Online] Crain Communications., October 17, 2015. https://www.chicagobusiness.com/article/20151017/ISSUE01/310179995/how-city-colleges-of-chicago-inflates-graduation-rates.
  3. Hyman, Cheryl L. Setting the record straight on City Colleges degree awards. ccc.edu. [Online] 2015. https://www.ccc.edu/news/Pages/Setting-the-record-straight-on-City-Colleges-degree-awards.aspx.
  4. Leone, Hannah. CPS students petition to shorten the class day — and end homework — during remote learning, citing headaches, stress and too much screen time. Chicago Tribune. [Online] October 14, 2020. https://www.chicagotribune.com/coronavirus/ct-cps-remote-schedules-20201014-kcgw4lyywrcodjlngg5cclijaa-story.html.