By Andy Armano
This series focuses on individuals who give to our community and make a positive impact on the lives of others. Often it is through our personal adversities that we discover who we are and transform the challenges into strength.
Megan Scutti is the Community and Inclusion Manager at the Museum of Discovery and Science (MODS). She organizes events to engage the LGBTQ+ community and our allies and works to create an inclusive space for staff. I recently sat down with Megan to discuss her important program and how her life experiences illuminate her work.
Andy Armano: Tell me a little bit about your upbringing.
Megan Scutti: I grew up in Fort Lauderdale, probably 20 minutes from here. I was raised Catholic. My mother and father are still together. I was homeschooled and I went to Florida Atlantic University and majored in Psychology.
AA: How did you come to be dedicating your career to inclusivity?
MS: I always knew that I wanted to work with the LGBTQ+ population. I identify as queer or bisexual. I went through my own hardships, and I don’t want anyone to feel that way.
AA: So this drive to help others has always been in you?
MS: Yeah, it’s always been there. My mom tells a story about when I was about four years old. We were at the playground and I saw a little boy picking on a little girl, and I got so mad I went over there and pushed him. I’m not advocating anyone getting pushed, but my Mom always says, “You were always sticking up for the underdog.”
AA: Have your personal experiences helped you in your daily work?
MS: Like it is for many people, I had many challenges coming out. It took me a while to come to terms with my own identity because of bi-erasure and bi-phobia, even in the community. When I started to disclose, I had friends who were not understanding. When I disclosed to my immediate family, there was pushback. I had some family that I didn’t even come out to at all. For a time, I had a girlfriend and I had to hide that. But my parents got over it, and then I was able to have my girlfriend over, and we’d have dinner nights and stuff.
I’m really fortunate with my family. My mother has even said things to me, like, “I just want you to be happy, whoever you’re with. As long as that person is healthy, and good for you, and you’re good for them, that’s all that we care about.” So, I was able to grow through these experiences. I’m a stronger person now, and I hope that shows in my work. I want to help other individuals that are struggling to love themselves and accept themselves and to know that they are valued; they are important and celebrated.
AA: Tell me about your career path. How did you end up working to promote inclusivity at the MODS?
MS: In college, I was a peer mentor for LGBTQ+ students under a program in the psychology department. After college, I worked as a mental health care caseworker before I came to the museum to run our Transitional Independent Living Program, which provides internships and support to young people aging out of foster care. When the inclusivity initiative came about at MODS, I interviewed for it and got it.
AA: Tell me a little about the MODS inclusivity program.
MS: The museum has a strong history of community involvement. Since Joe Cox, our president and CEO has come on, he has really led us in being even more involved with the community. For inclusivity, we have our Museum on Wheels science program, and we go to different LGBTQ+ organizations in the community to bring our science programs to them. We looked over the museum’s handbook and policies. And we also have decals of our rainbow arches outside on the box office, so when you come here and you’re getting your tickets you see that sign right there.
AA: Can you give me a highlight of your work on the inclusivity program?
MS: It was so special to see all types of families enjoying our Pride Day program. What was wonderful to experience was the sheer authenticity from everybody here at the museum. This last Pride Day the energy was incredible. The staff came in extra early to help set up; everyone was just so supportive. We had shirts made for the staff. It was optional for them, and every single one of the staff wore those shirts because they wanted to. I could really tell that people were genuinely excited about it and proud of it.
AA: You know what I find really exciting when I hear stories like this is that the positive effect has ripple effects. You brought your passion to your job, and your heart to your job, and then your team created this event. And that positive energy spread to all these people that work here, and then they take that home. And the event touches the lives of the attendees, and they take that positive energy home and share it. It multiplies. It’s really cool.
MS: It is magical.