The rocket club at Citrus College in Glendora, California — the awesomely named Citrus Rocket Owls — were one of 45 selected to participate in NASA Student Launch Week, held this year in Huntsville, Alabama. That’s the good news.
Unfortunately for the Rocket Owls, California law AB 1887 is going to stop them from making the trip.
The law “prohibits California from approving a request for state-funded or state-sponsored travel” to any state that is determined to have discriminated on the “basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.” That list includes Alabama, as well as Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee and Texas.
The Rocket Owls would have been attending the competition alongside far larger and well-known schools like Carnegie Mellon, Penn State, UC Berkeley, Cornell and Notre Dame.
A statement from Citrus College read:
“The College stands with the State Chancellor, the Legislature and the Governor in support of AB 1887 as a response against discrimination. As an alternative, the Rocket Owls will be participating in a rocket competition sponsored by Friends of Amateur Rocketry/Mars Society to be held in Mojave, California.”
Math professor Paul Swatzel told KABC in Los Angeles that he hopes the team can raise the the funds to pay for the trip privately and that the school will allow them to head to Alabama. He put his money where his mouth is by donating $500 himself.
Here is the team’s Facebook page, where they will be posting updates on the situation.