On 17 November, at 12.45 p.m., a large crowd gathered on CERN’s Esplanade des Particules to watch the Progress Pride flag rise at the Laboratory for the first time. The flag was raised to show CERN’s commitment to recognising the talent and contributions that the LGBTQ+ community has made to scientific progress, both at CERN and around the world. The flag-raising ceremony coincides with LGBTQ+ STEM day, which will be globally celebrated by scientific institutions on Saturday, 18 November.
“Today’s raising of the Progress Pride flag is a very welcome symbol of the progress being made in acknowledging the presence and contribution of the LGBTQ+ community, not just at CERN but in the science and technology community worldwide,” says Laura Stewart, from the CERN Cryogenics group. “We should not forget, however, that LGBTQ+ individuals have always been a part of that community, even if they have so often felt unacknowledged and invisible. I hope today’s symbolic flag raising will finally close the chapter where many feel that they have to hide their true identities and open a new one where they can be free to contribute to their fullest, in the knowledge that they will be accepted for who they truly are and the excellence they bring to the world.”
LGBTQ+ people in science have historically faced discrimination or have felt the need to hide their identity at work. A study from as recently as 2019 found that 28% of LGBTQ+ people working in the physical sciences have at some point considered leaving their job because of hostile attitudes towards their LGBTQ+ identity in their work environment. This is a loss for science, since, by nature, scientific research needs a diverse range of perspectives for effective collaboration and progress to take place. At CERN, which prides itself on its values of open collaboration in a melting pot of different cultures and backgrounds, it is therefore vital to recognise and celebrate diversity and ensure that the Organization is a welcoming place for people from all walks of life.
“The CERN community is full of so many diverse people and cultures, and their unique perspectives make the science that we do so much better,” says Daniel Ally, from the CMS collaboration. “I’m glad to see CERN stand in solidarity with its LGBTQ+ community.”
The flag was raised at 1.00 p.m. CET and was streamed live on social media. On the day, volunteers from the informal CERN LGBTQ+ network guided visitors around CERN’s brand new Science Gateway facilities.
“Today we raise the flag as a sign of progress and pride at CERN,” says Louise Carvalho, CERN Diversity and Inclusion Programme leader. “We extend our hand to colleagues who hide their LGBTQ+ identity for fear of reprisal, exclusion or being passed over for promotion. Science is for everyone, and everyone belongs here – equally.”