FIRST Robotics Competition Blog


May 23, 2016 Written by Frank Merrick.


In case you don’t know, and might be interested, there is a blog run by LGBT+ students in FRC for LGBT+ folks in the FRC community. You can find it here.

I think this blog is a great idea, and would feel the same for any segment of the FRC community that might not always feel fully welcomed, and wanted their own customized space to talk about their experiences, share resources, and maybe help people not familiar with their situation learn more. I want to believe that all of FRC is welcoming of the full, magnificent diversity of our species on this planet, but I know that when it comes down to it in practice, that is not always true, and it hurts my heart.

As part of my job, I’m lucky enough to meet all kinds of people, from CEOs, to politicians, to students from all over the world, to AmeriCorps VISTA program members, just barely scraping by and supporting FIRST in underserved communities in the U.S. And my personal experience with these individuals, regardless of the size of their bank account, sexual orientation, ethnicity, race, or any other attribute, is overwhelmingly positive. If I were mentoring an FRC team, and you were an LGBT+ student or mentor, or a member of any other marginalized group, for you I would have a slice of pizza on a paper plate, a seat at the workbench, and open arms.   

It’s not perfect out there, and sometimes it’s absolutely awful, but I’m seeing positive changes, both in society and in FRC, and I can imagine a day, not impossibly distant, when we recognize and value each other for who we are, in all our glorious diversity.


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I am a mentor of a Saint Louis team that did not qualify to compete at championships, so instead volunteered. In a conversation with other volunteers who are alumni and mentors, we remarked on how inclusive FIRST is! Whether it is young men in tiaras & tutus, or young women in coveralls & tuxedos, or anything in between. 
Part of Gracious Professionalism is allowing people to be who they want to be, without prejudice or bullying. 
I am an ally, with family and friends all over the LGBTQ+ spectrum, and ADORE that FIRST is a safe place for our youth. Keep up the good work!

One of the things I value most about FIRST is the exposure I receive to a diverse population. Thank you for sharing this.

On behalf of all the moderators of the LGBT FIRST blog, I would like to say thank you so so much for your support and understanding. We are so happy and excited that this was posted and eager to see what will happen regarding the future of the blog. Thank you!

Frank,  I applaud your wise words as FIRST openly declares it's inclusiveness.  While many organizations would steer clear of this issue, you have made a great step in making FIRST more openly welcome to all.  Kids shouldn't have to worry how they will be received by peers or adults; we involved with FIRST welcome all open inquiring minds!

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