As a people, we’ve made vast improvements throughout our hundreds of thousands of years on this planet. We’ve developed complex languages to communicate a wide array of emotions; we’ve implemented various systemic structures in our individual societies in order to organize our daily lives; we’ve created marvelous pieces of technology to make our lives easier; and even with all of this progress, there are certain societal progressions that have yet to be made, such as the acceptance of all people.

As someone who’s always fought for equality and acceptance, it makes me happy to see that the field that I care so much about (STEM) is looking to embrace people of all races, creeds and backgrounds. On July 5th, the world celebrated the very first International LGBTSTEM Day. This is a great step forward in bridging the diversity gap in STEM fields.

International LGBTSTEM Day was created to honor those individuals in the LGBT community who work in STEM fields. Unfortunately, a great deal of these individuals are still oppressed and struggle with being open about their sexual orientation and identity in STEM fields. In fact, according to multiple studies conducted over the years, individuals from the LGBT community are underrepresented; what’s more, one study found that 7% of sexual minority students (gay, lesbian, bisexual, etc.) are less likely to continue their STEM education, opting instead to go into a non-STEM program.

According to the official International LGBTSTEM Day website, July 5th was chosen with international representation in mind. In the United States, the date would be read as “705,” which is the exact wavelength of the color red, which also represents life; in all other territories, it would be read as “507,” or the wavelength for the color green, which represents nature. These are both colors featured on the rainbow flag, the official flag of the LGBT community.

Although it is still brand new, International LGBTSTEM Day is an outstanding opportunity to share your pride in your sexuality and your career, as well as honor others who’ve led the way in LGBT/STEM rights. Leaders like Alan Turing, Lynn Conway and Anne Mei Chang are paving the way for STEM advancements and LGBT acceptance.