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Taking Pride in Conservation: Pride Month with Miss Toto

Miss Toto takes pride in her work as a drag queen, DJ, and a promoter of queerness in science.

Every year, she joins marine scientists off the coast of Miami for hands-on shark research. Donning full drag, Miss Toto hosts Drag ‘n Tag, a day of marine education with other local queens. Participants get the opportunity to collect data on sharks in an inclusive learning environment.

The event is run by Field School, a Florida-based organization that provides research experience through courses like Intro to Shark Research Skills and Bahamas Sperm Whale Research. Noticing a lack of diversity in the field as a marine scientist herself, Miss Toto connected with Field School staff nearly a decade ago while studying at University of Miami. The event is made possible with fundraising support from Minorities in Shark Sciences (MISS). The Foundation has supported similar work by MISS, including the tagging of bull sharks in Crystal River through our Protect Florida Springs grants.

The event aims to create a welcoming space for learning, while highlighting the need for queer representation in the sciences.

“There is a lack of diversity in all science fields and that isn’t specific to one particular group,” said Miss Toto. “I have experienced this personally through marine science and I want BIPOC LGBTQ+ people to know that they can and should have the opportunity to have the experiences as everyone else.”

MIAMI, FL – SEPTEMBER 16: during Drag and Tag 2023 September 16, 2023 aboard the RV Garvin off the coast of Miami, Florida. (Photo by Cliff Hawkins/Field School)

Underrepresentation of queer identities in science sectors, including conservation, discourages talented individuals from marginalized communities from pursuing careers in marine sciences, ultimately weakening the field’s ability to adapt and grow. This representation is essential in fostering a supportive community, encouraging varied perspectives, and driving innovative solutions to the complex challenges facing our oceans.

The fourth annual Drag ‘n Tag event will take place September 21, 2024. Like events of years past, this year will support Pridelines, a south Florida non-profit committed to supporting the LGBTQ+ community by organizing social gatherings, educational workshops, and cultural events. For more information on how to get involved, contact Field School or follow them on Instagram.



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