CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — Two academics at the University of North Carolina were among the leading voices pushing for LGBT inclusion at the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).

The group says it has 425,000 members in over 160 countries, making it the world’s largest professional organization for engineers. And, it’s new Code of Ethics now includes protections for LGBT people.

“Today is a momentous day for equality in the world of nerds, geeks and hackers,”  Dana Beyer, executive director of Gender Rights Maryland, wrote in a Huffington Post commentary last week. “Given that many of us have, to some degree, become technologically proficient during the new industrial revolution, this is of great importance to all of us. Today, the IEEE … is publishing its new Code of Ethics. And that Code, known within the profession as much as a code of honor as one of ethics, is, for the first time, LGBT-inclusive.”

Leandra Vicci
Leandra Vicci

The change was under consideration last fall. Proposals included protections on the basis of sexual orientation, but excluded gender identity and expression. Two transgender women sought to change that, including Leandra Vicci, a lecturer and director of the Applied Engineering Laboratory at the University of North Carolina’s Department of Computer Science.

Other academics came to their aid, encouraging IEEE to make their new changes fully-inclusive. A letter of support was spearheaded by the University of North Carolina’s Dr. Fred Brooks, “the father of the IBM System/360,” Beyer wrote.

Read more about the change at the professional organization in Beyer’s Huffington Post commentary.

(Photo Credit: UNC, University Gazette, src)

Matt Comer

Matt Comer previously served as editor from October 2007 through August 2015 and as a staff writer afterward in 2016.