Metro Weekly

Sally Ride will become first out LGBTQ person on US currency

Ride, the first American woman astronaut in space, will appear on a new series of quarters honoring trailblazing women

sally ride, lgbtq, nasa, quarter
Sally Ride — Image: US Mint

Sally Ride, the first American woman and first known LGBTQ person to travel to space, will become the first openly LGBTQ person to appear on U.S. currency.

The U.S. Mint will issue new quarters over the next four years featuring a number of trailblazing American women, with Ride’s quarter set to enter circulation in 2022. 

The design of Ride’s quarter depicts the astronaut next to a window on the space shuttle, inspired by her comment, “When I wasn’t working, I was usually at a window looking down at Earth.”

Ride, who died in 2012, “would be so moved by this great honor,” her partner, Tam O’Shaughnessy, said in a statement.

“This tribute reflects Sally’s legacy not only as a trailblazing astronaut but also as a champion of diversity and inclusion in STEM fields,” O’Shaughnessy added.

Ride flew aboard the Space Shuttle Challenger in 1983 and 1984.

She retired in 1987, a year after the Challenger exploded, killing seven astronauts and leading NASA to temporarily suspend the shuttle program. Ride continued to advise NASA as part of the commission that investigated the Challenger disaster.

Among other roles, she started the company Sally Ride Science in 2001, aiming to reduce the gender gap in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) programs and careers.

After two years battling pancreatic cancer, Ride died in 2012 at age 61. Her obituary revealed that her partner of 27 years had been O’Shaughnessy, a childhood friend and professor emerita of school psychology at San Diego State University.

The American Women Quarters Program will honor up to 20 women “from a wide spectrum of fields including, but not limited to, suffrage, civil rights, abolition, government, humanities, science, space, and the arts,” the U.S. Mint said in a statement, adding that the women would be from “ethnically, racially, and geographically diverse backgrounds.” By law, no living person can be depicted in the coin designs. 

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen — the first woman to hold the position — will select the featured women in consultation with the Smithsonian Institution’s American Women’s History Initiative, the National Women’s History Museum and the Congressional Bipartisan Women’s Caucus, the New York Times reports.

Besides Ride, the other women to be featured on 2022 quarters are writer and civil rights activist Maya Angelou; Wilma Mankiller, the first female principal chief of the Cherokee Nation; suffragist Nina Otero-Warren, the first female superintendent of Santa Fe public schools; and Anna May Wong, Hollywood’s first Chinese-American film star.

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