"There are a couple of ways being a queer neuroscientist affects not only my research but my pedagogy. For me, its important to just be out there, capital O out there and be a face for the students.
I teach one of the core courses in Kinesiology, so I teach between 700 - 800 undergraduates a year. I think its really important and useful for those undergrads to see an openly queer neuroscience professor teaching them the basics of neurophysiology, especially with such a diverse student body. I make easy references to my wife during my lectures, I don’t hide it - I’ll say “hey here’s something my wife did the other day” as an example in class. I think just having that representation is essential.
As a professor of neuroscience, I study how the brain controls movement. One of my main research interests is looking at the effects of sex and gender on how the brain works. A lot of the research out there is done by males, for males and therefore it’s quite narrow in focus. There hasn’t been a lot done in sex-related differences and there is almost nothing on gender-related differences. Representation is vital, so just unapologetically being out as a queer professor and as a scientist is important.
I think as long as there continues to be at least a small but vocal group pushing boundaries, then we will not only have better representation of people doing the science but importantly, more representation of the people the science represents. And we’re just not there yet.
Back in the day, we didn’t have pride parades, we had pride marches. We’re still at a point where there are issues and kids still being bullied, and the word gay is still being tossed around as a pejorative term in the school yard. So, I think we still need the spirit of marching to be present in the discussion of Pride Month. The party is fun, but we need to keep the activist messaging going and people need to know that it’s okay to be different."
Dr. Lauren E Sergio
Professor, Faculty of Health - School of Kinesiology & Health Science