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We’re still working hard to promote queer representation here on earth, but some people are already looking to the stars and thinking about how to make them more inclusive.

“Of the 561 individuals that have been selected as astronauts or cosmonauts, none have ever identified openly as a member of the LGBTQ community,” a press release explains. “Last week, the Out Astronaut Project teamed with the National Organization of Gay and Lesbian Scientists and Technical Professionals (NOGLSTP) to provide opportunities for LGBTQ persons to become actively involved in space-related research. NOGLSTP is well-aligned with the mission of the Out Astronaut Project; since 1983 it has served to empower LGBTQ individuals in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields by providing education, advocacy, professional development, networking, and peer support.”

This kind of advocacy is much-needed. According to a recent poll, more than 40 percent of LGBTQ people in STEM are not out, and LGBTQ students are less likely to follow an academic career. As a result, there are fewer out LGBTQ STEM professionals serving as role models to LGBTQ youth.

The Out Astronaut Project will highlight the contributions of LGBTQ members currently working in science and space, provide grants to promising LGBTQ students currently pursuing professions in space-related fields, and to eventually train and fly an ‘Out’ member of the LGBTQ community to conduct a scientific mission in space as a scientist-astronaut.

“Astronauts inspire our youth, represent limitless possibilities, and serve as ambassadors to STEM,” said Out Astronaut Project Executive Director Dr. Jason Reimuller according to a press release. “We believe that communities are empowered when they are represented.”

To learn more, check the project out online at. outastronaut.org.