Study indicates perceived impact of a STEM instructor revealing LGBTQ identity to students

June 2, 2022

A new study is the first to indicate the perceived impact of an instructor revealing her LGBTQ identity to students in the U.S.

The study, published in Life Sciences Education, was co-authored by Carly Busch, a biology education PhD candidate in the School of Life Sciences, and co-advisers Sara Brownell and Katelyn Cooper Hand writing a chemistry equation on a piece of paper. Download Full Image

In the study, an instructor revealed her identity to her large-enrollment undergraduate biology course in less than three seconds. She did not mention her LGBTQ identity to the class at any other point during the term.

Eight weeks later, researchers surveyed students about the perceived impact of the instructor sharing this information with them. 

Despite common concerns about whether it is appropriate for an instructor to reveal their LGBTQ identity to students and the potential for the instructor to face negative consequences, the study’s findings were encouraging:

  • Nearly two-thirds of students who remembered the instructor revealing her LGBTQ identity reported that it had a positive impact on their overall experience in the course.

  • More than 70% of all students perceived that the instructor revealing her identity increased their feelings of connectedness with her and their willingness to approach her for mentorship.

  • It also increased the majority of students’ confidence in their ability to pursue a career in science, their sense of belonging in the course and their sense of belonging within the scientific community.

“We have previously interviewed LGBTQ+ instructors, and many of them said that they might be willing to reveal their identity to students in the classroom if it could positively benefit the students, but we never had the evidence to show instructors the benefits,” Brownell said.

“We are hopeful that this study can help encourage LGBTQ+ instructors who are on the fence about revealing their LGBTQ+ identity to come out, and ultimately increase representation of LGBTQ+ individuals in science.”

Though LGBTQ students and women were more likely to note a positive impact of the instructor’s decision to reveal her identity, the majority of students noted positive outcomes, and 96.1% of students perceived that it is appropriate for a STEM instructor to reveal their LGBTQ identity during a course.

“Having visible LGBTQ+ role models in STEM can be incredibly impactful for students, and I’m excited to be contributing to research that may be able to increase that representation,” Busch said.

“It’s expected that LGBTQ+ students would appreciate and benefit from their instructors coming out in class, but what I have found so interesting about this work is the extent to which students who are not part of the LGBTQ+ community also say that they benefit from an instructor coming out.”

The research team was recently awarded a National Science Foundation grant to continue their research at a larger scale.

“This study was done in one class with one instructor, so we can't generalize from a single study,” Brownell said.

“Our funding from the National Science Foundation will allow us to expand this to many different instructors, in different geographic areas, to see if we can show similar benefits to students.”

Lauren Whitby

Digital Marketing Manager, The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences


'Print and Ink' exhibit features Chicano, Indigenous artists

June 2, 2022

As you head downstairs to the lower level of the University Center, a surprise awaits you at Arizona State University's Downtown Phoenix campus library.

In the middle of the library are the remains of the National Bank of Arizona vault. Preserved within the library space, the vault now known as the “Vault Gallery” offers a rotating collection of local artists that delight and inspire patrons and visitors.  Printmaking artworks hanging on a wall. “Print and Ink” exhibit at the Vault Gallery on the Downtown Phoenix campus. Photo credit Marco Albarrán Download Full Image

In collaboration with CALACA Cultural Center, the ASU Library announces the opening of a new exhibit at the Vault Gallery.

“Print and Ink: Expressions through Images” features artists drawing upon Chicano and Indigenous life experiences, cultural expressions and identities. The exhibit opens June 3 and runs through Aug. 12, featuring pieces by Martin Moreno, Jose Benavides, Emily Costello, Cristina Cardenas, Marco Albarrán, Monica Gisel, and Jesus Cruz Jr.

Co-curated by Jackie Young, user services specialist at ASU Library, and Marco Albarrán, collections and exhibit planning manager with the School of Human Evolution and Social Change, the featured artworks are vibrant, energetic and tell a story. 

Partnering with CALACA and community

CALACA was founded in 2003, and through cultural experiences, community involvement and partnerships works to preserve and promote Chicano and Indigenous art. The organization has been integral for the arts community. Albarrán brought Chicano and Indigenous artists into the Vault Gallery who hail from throughout Arizona and the Southwest and who have been active printmaking practitioners.

“My personal goal as a curator is to offer art to our Downtown Phoenix campus community that educates as well as is reflective of the larger artistic community and population of this region,” Young said. “The Vault Gallery particularly has a mission of showcasing the work of the ASU community, and the collaboration with Marco was a perfect fit with our gallery’s mission.”

Finding human connections to voices within communities

“Chavez En Phoenix” by Martin Moreno

The printing processes used by the artists also lend to the themes portrayed in the work and the shared inspiration.

“For many of the artists, family, community and cultural histories connect them all to a selected creative process, which makes this exhibit selection unique,” Albarrán said. “One particular image that really caught my attention was ‘Recuerdos de mi Abuela,’ a collaborative piece made by Emily Costello and Janet Diaz. This piece reminded me of my own experiences with my grandmothers, and my connections to them.” 

Young echoed the sentiment: “I hope the artwork helps our community to see how family, cultural traditions, history, place and other factors influence artistic visions. I believe these works of art enrich and inform the fabric of our community and our state."

Every visitor will find a piece that inspires them.

“All of the pieces inspire me in different ways when I am in different moods,” Young said. “Perhaps my favorite is Christina Cardenas’ ‘La Virgen de los Pescados’ ('The Virgin of the Fish') because of the vivid colors, the use of mythology and how she draws on her experiences as a Mexican immigrant living in Tucson; that work in particular just grabs me and commands my attention every time I walk by it and I see something in it I hadn’t seen before.”

Experience ‘Print and Ink’ in downtown Phoenix

In time to kick off June’s First Friday celebrations, the opening reception for “Print and Ink” takes place from 4 to 6 p.m. on Friday, June 3. Enjoy light refreshments and conversation with the artists and curators. 

For Vault Gallery hours, visit

For questions about the Vault Gallery or Downtown Phoenix campus library exhibits, contact Jackie Young. “Print and Ink” will be on view until Aug. 12.

Marilyn Murphy

Communications Specialist, ASU Library