Athlete Ally announced the launch of Champions of Inclusion, the first free, comprehensive online curriculum for coaches on LGBTQ respect and inclusion within athletics. Designed to educate coaches, athletic directors, Senior Women Administrators, trainers, and captains at the collegiate, club, and K-12 level across the U.S., Champions of Inclusion aims to eliminate geographic and financial barriers to LGBTQ education.
Through a series of interactive quizzes and video modules featuring LGBTQ athletes, coaches, professors, and inclusion experts, curriculum participants learn about sexuality and gender, obstacles faced by LGBTQ athletes, how to proactively foster an inclusive athletic community, and how to ensure their own teams and leagues have sustainable, inclusive policies and practices.
“The people who most need to be reached on LGBTQ issues are often educated the least,” said Hudson Taylor, Executive Director of Athlete Ally. “We designed this curriculum to be accessible, interactive, time and cost effective, and to help lay a solid foundation for teams to not only be accepting of LGBTQ athletes, but to proactively foster an environment where all athletes feel safe, welcomed and included.”
80% of people worldwide have experienced homophobia in sport, and LGBTQ individuals drop out of sport at nearly double the rate of their cisgender and heterosexual peers.12 Awareness-raising through education is a key step to fostering inclusion. This points to a dire need for coaches and athletic leaders to be educated on LGBTQ issues, without cost, geography or time constraints serving as barriers.
“With the Champions of Inclusion curriculum, Athlete Ally has created a much-need tool that caters to the busy schedule of coaches, athletic leaders and administrators,” said Shaun Richard, Senior Associate Director of Athletics at Ohio State University. “LGBTQ equality is incredibly important to Ohio State University Athletics, and Athlete Ally has played a major role in helping us have the tools we need to foster an inclusive campus. This expert-driven resource will be an essential part of our diversity trainings moving forward.”
“Positive Coaches Alliance (PCA) is excited for the launch of the Athlete Ally curriculum,” said Jason Sacks, Vice President of Business Development & Philanthropy at PCA. “Our partners are always looking to learn and grow as parents, coaches and administrators, and we know this will only support them further in creating a positive, safe and inclusive youth sports environment for their children.”
“USA Weightlifting is a proud supporter of the LGBTQ community within our sport,” said Phil Andrews, CEO of USA Weightlifting. “Sport is sport, and Athlete Ally’s Champions of Inclusion curriculum provides the necessary education and a platform for developing a more inclusive sport culture.”
“The Champions of Inclusion curriculum presents an exciting opportunity for coaches and athletics professionals to gain important knowledge and understanding about LGBTQ inclusion in athletics,” said Kerrie Turner, Head Gymnastics Coach at Bowling Green State University and President of the Women’s Collegiate Gymnastics Association. “The program is easy to navigate and self-paced to accommodate the complex schedules of coaches, sport leaders, administrators and athletes. Upon completion, I felt confident that I have the necessary tools and resources to create impactful dialogue within my team and colleagues and to create inclusive environments in athletics. There is important work to be done in diversity and inclusion and, as coaches and leaders, education and resources are greatly needed.”
To access the curriculum or learn more, please visit learn.athleteally.org.
The NBA’s Expanding Relationship with the LGBTQ Community
Sports fans have probably noticed that the culture around professional sports has been rapidly changing lately to become one of diversity and inclusion. That’s by no means to suggest that things are perfect, but it’s clear that progress is being made.
The National Basketball Association (NBA) has represented a significant part of this progress, leading the way particularly in activism concerning the LGBTQ community. Here we will review a few of the league’s recent efforts to help those struggling to find acceptance and combat discrimination towards members of this community.
Reggie Bullock’s History of LGBTQ Activism
New York Knicks shooting guard Reggie Bullock has played for several teams around the league, but is perhaps best known for his involvement in the LGBTQ community. This is partially due to a Vice Sports documentary about him that was released when he was still playing with the Los Angeles Lakers. Bullock’s activism has been primarily motivated by the murder of his transgender sister back in 2014.
Since that horrible tragedy, he has made it his goal to personally understand the unique struggles faced particularly by trans women of color, as well as to educate others on the importance of this issue. In addition to the Vice documentary, Bullock has shared his experiences on countless other media platforms and has helped to make the sports world more supportive of the trans community (even if in many respects there’s still a very long way to go).
The 76ers’ Pride Community Conversation & Basketball Clinic
Every professional sports team has a particular cause or two at any given time that it advocates for with fundraisers, donations, and events. Accordingly, the Philadelphia 76ers have recently started supporting LGBTQ youth in their home town, through events like the Pride Community Conversation & Basketball Clinic that took place earlier this summer. The clinic was a part of the Sixers’ celebration of Pride Month, for which the team also participated in Philly’s annual pride parade. Following a panel discussion, the Sixers’ clinic was led by former pro Jason Collins and a few members of the coaching staff.
Judging by NBA odds, the 76ers are lined up to be one of the most competitive teams this upcoming season, which should make all of this activism and support matter that much more. While it’s nice to see any pro franchise take a stand and get involved, one full of star players and playing in big games naturally attracts all the more attention. Hopefully we’ll see LGBTQ youth in Philadelphia in particular enjoying an ongoing positive impact.
The NBA Catalyzing Repeal of HB2 in North Carolina
In the winter of 2016, North Carolina‘s fairly conservative legislature passed a bill that required people to use the restroom meant for their gender assigned at birth, among other discriminatory clauses. Infamously known as the “bathroom bill,” the legislation’s passage sparked protests not just within the state but around the entire country. These included businesses pulling activity from the state, with perhaps the most notable example coming from the NBA.
The league had planned to host is 2017 All-Star Game in Charlotte, but wound up moving the game to New Orleans, with the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) moving games outside of the state as well. Considering how central basketball, especially at the college level, is to the State of North Carolina, these boycotts were major news, and sparked even more demand for the bill to be repealed. A year after the NBA moved its All-Star Game, the NCAA (not typically a paragon of virtue itself) told the state legislature that it had two days to repeal the law or else the state wouldn’t be allowed to host any championship games for five years. It was this pressure from these basketball organizations in part that finally led to a partial repeal of the law, and the All Star Game returned to Charlotte in 2019.
All of these initiatives by NBA teams, players, and administrators have us feeling optimistic about the future of the relationship between the league and the LGBTQ community. There’s a long way to go, and the NBA remains imperfect from a social activism standpoint. But it’s trending progressive, which should continue to yield meaningful results.
Austin Bold Hosts Inaugural Pride Night
The Austin Bold FC will celebrate the start of Pride season in Austin by hosting Pride Night during the club’s inaugural season on Saturday, June 8, 2019 out at the Bold Stadium at Circuit of The Americas as the minor league soccer team takes on Portland Timbers 2.
Pride Night is held in partnership with Austin PRIDE, with 25% of merchandise sales during the night’s game, including a specially designed Austin Bold FC Pride Jersey featuring white/turquoise stripes with rainbow sleeve detail and screenprint graphics, being donated to the Austin Gay & Lesbian Pride Foundation.
Plus, Austin singer-songwriter and The Voice Season 1 alumni Nakia will open Pride Night with the national anthem.
Kickball Comes to the gAyTX
Austin’s gay sports community got a bit bigger this spring as America’s Finest Kickball League launched in Austin earlier in April with a pickup game in southeast Austin. While Austin’s has plenty of groups that host their own kickball leagues throughout the year, most as part of a larger offering of sports — ATX Sports & Adventures, Austin Sports & Social Club, CLUBWAKA, NAKID Social Sports, just to name a few — none of these groups specifically target the LGBT community.
The league’s first event was a free pick up game at Richard Moya Park near Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. “The response has been amazing!” says America’s Finest Kickball League CEO Keith London. “So many people are excited for our summer league. At our first pick up game we had 39 people!”
The pickup game come ahead of the local league’s inaugural season which is planned to start on Saturday, June 24, 2017 with games on Saturdays from 11 AM – 1 PM. Online registration for the Summer 2017 season closes Saturday, June 10, 2017 with a fee of $65 per person (plus $2.50 processing fee). Another free pick up game is planned for Saturday, April 29, 2017 at 3 PM at Richard Moya Park.
The launch of Austin’s kickball league is just the first for AFKL in Texas with plans to kick off in Dallas on Sunday, July 2 and in Houston on Saturday, August 5. Nationwide, a league in Seattle, WA is tentatively schedule for Saturday, August 12 with plans to launch additional leagues in Las Vegas, New Orleans, Orlando and Tampa in the near future.
For more information about America’s Finest Kickball League, visit www.americasfinestkickballleague.com
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