After reading Amanda’s blog post Straight Privilege, I felt compelled to tell a personal story about discrimination.  Last fall, my advisor encouraged me to apply for a fellowship through the NIH to help fund myself through my graduate program.  The NIH offers an F series fellowship called the F31.  I noticed that there were actually 2 F31s, one is for general submissions, and the other is to promote “diversity” for the field of the student.  The diversity fellowship states that the purpose of the fellowship is to support students that come from backgrounds “underrepresented in the biomedical, behavioral, or clinical research workforce. Such individuals include those from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups, those with disabilities, and those from disadvantaged backgrounds.”  The fellowship then goes on to state that an underrepresented group is defined by the college itself.  I asked my college what this meant, and what they consider to be underrepresented and they didn’t actually know, but said that it was whatever group the NIH considers underrepresented.

As a homosexual, I am a minority in my field.  However, according to the website that I found for the NIH, being gay is not considered a minority and therefore not considered diverse enough for their diversity fellowships.  When our class discussion was about diversity and inclusion, a large focus of the conversation was how to create a “community”.  I am a minority, but how am I supposed to feel when I’m not considered a minority and not included as a part of a “diverse community”?  Makes me feel less part of the whole than I did to begin with.  I do believe that diversity fellowships are important but I think that discriminating against some minorities to promote others is wrong.

-JB