Engineering ‘Safe Zone’ For Gay Students Will Cost Taxpayers $500,000

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Rob Shimshock Education Reporter
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The National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded two grants on Thursday, totaling more than $500,000 to facilitate “safe zone” training encouraging more LGBTQ students to join engineering.

The NSF awarded $473,325 to the American Society for Engineering Education and $114,116 to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, according to The Washington Free Beacon.

“Recent research on the experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) individuals in engineering has shown that the climate can be unfriendly (or ‘chilly’) for both students and professionals,” the two grants read. “This project aims to increase the inclusion of LGBTQ students and professionals in engineering.”

The grants reference “exclusionary practices” that create this “chilly climate,” but do not elaborate on how exactly industry professionals discriminate against LGBTQ students in the field.

The two institutions will use grant money to create strategies to increase the inclusion of these students in engineering, which will include an online SafeZone course to educate engineering professionals and students on inclusive practices with regard to LGBTQ students.

The American Society for Engineering Education’s Rocio Chavela Guerra, Rowan University’s experiential engineering education chair Stephanie Farrell, and University of Illinois post-doctoral researcher Kelly Cross are spearheading the study.

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