Founded in 1988 by psychologist Richard Eichberg and gay rights activist Jean O’Leary, National Coming Out Day raises awareness for LGBTQ+ community and encourages support for individuals within the community. Oct. 11 was selected in recognition of the 1987 National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights, which included about half a million participants.

Founded in 2016, UCF’s chapter of the national group Out in Stem (oSTEM)  is a student organization dedicated to providing community, support, and professional development for students who are pursuing STEM majors and hold LGBTQ+ identities. The organization currently has about 80 members and frequently works with LGBTQ+ individuals from STEM companies to help students gain personal knowledge, industry insight and networking opportunities.

In August, oSTEM was awarded a Campus Pride Social Justice Mini-grant for Activism Funding totaling $600, which they are using to distribute chest binders to transgender students at UCF, Valencia College and Full Sail University. Distribution is taking place in October in observance of LGBT History Month and November to recognize Transgender Day of Remembrance, which is Nov. 20.

UCF was listed recently as the top college for LGBTQ+ students in Florida and as one of the top 25 in the nation by in partnership with the Campus Pride Index. The list ranked higher-education institutions on their academics, affordability and LGBTQ+ service

As we observe the celebration of LGBT History Month and National Coming Out Day, here four members of oSTEM share what the group means to them.

Mack Brueggemann
Major: Kinesiology 
Class of 2023

“There are statistics about workers in STEM fields who feel like they have to be closeted in the workplace or who experience anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination, so it’s very important an organization like oSTEM exists so LGBTQ+ students in STEM can be fully themselves in their industries. This group helps empower us and shows us that we can be leaders in STEM fields.”

Parker Hall
: Aerospace engineering 
Class of 2023

“The LGBTQ” community is so small and the intersection between that and the STEM community is even smaller. I felt like I needed that community and that oSTEM was a really great opportunity to find people in my field.”

Leticia Barbosa (she/they)
Computer science
Class of 2023

“I joined this group because of the intersectionality of STM and being out. … Overall, being in this group has really given me a sense of acceptance. It definitely empowers ,,e to be myself at UCF.”

Micah Reisner
: Sociology
Class of 2023

“The majority of my support system are people I’ve met through oSTEM. Through cabinet positions I’ve had opportunities to work on leadership skills, flex different muscles and learn things I don’t think I would have been able to without taking on these responsibilities within the organization.”