When I was a Teaching Assistant last year for an introductory science course, I ran into a problem with a laboratory assignment that was discriminatory to trans students. Despite having a background in lgbtq studies and identifying as part of the queer community, I still had trouble trying to decide on the best plan of action and was not aware of all of the resources available to me. This is not my first experience with queerphobia in STEM, however, but was my common experience as a biology major, even at one of the most liberal schools in the nation. We wanted to create an app that would promote queer inclusivity both in and outside of education.
While Title IX training modules exist, and occasionally incorporate lgbtq experiences, these experiences are often limited to sex and dating. We instead wanted to develop an online app that would incorporate situations often experienced by queer individuals and that would be relevant both inside and outside of education. We chose to create fillable answers to simulate more natural responses rather than just multiple choice. In this way we were trying to get people to think critically about interactions rather than mindlessly filling out modules. By developing this app, we were hoping to remove the burden of educating people on sexuality from queer, trans, and other underrepresented groups. We also hope that this app will be useful to queer youth, especially those closeted, providing them with a single space to access reliable resources.
What it does
The app learns about your relation to someone, and gives you relevant contexts to respond to. Your responses are then recorded, and feedback is provided so that you can understand how to respond to certain situations without being hurtful to your loved one.
How we built it
We used React to build the front end of the project. We also used Google Cloud NLP API to perform sentiment analysis on the text input portions, and allowed for responsive feedback. Styling was done using SCSS.
Challenges we ran into
The biggest challenge was navigating through a multicomponent React app! We had a lot of different responsive components in this app, and in the future would love to incorporate more content that uses these features. I also had issues with Google Cloud API and fetching content, but learned how to fetch APIs and debounce requests with thanks to the mentors.
Additionally the scope of the content was just too large, and we couldn't fit everything in, so we decided to go with a generic route that many people can relate to as a "trial".
What's next for QSpace
In the future, we plan on making QSpace more personalized with options that address specific experiences within different ethnic and religious communities among other identities. This is important because other lgbtq apps and websites often do not take into account how ethnicity amd socio-economic status, among other identities lead to different experiences. In this way, our app hopes to intersect with culture-based education, making our resources more relevant and more memorable to app users. We also plan to have separate categories that will address biphobia, racism, colorism, and ableism within the queer community as well as provide resources for sexual and mental health making this app relevant for both queers and allies. Furthermore, our explanations of each modules will provide other resources including videos and articles in order to make it more accessible and to provide a multisensory approach to cater to different learning styles.