The United Soccer League (USL) today announced the creation of the Forever Proud Project, an ongoing, year-round initiative designed to increase inclusivity, education and awareness for the LGBTQ+ community.
The Forever Proud Project aims to create opportunities and promote LGBTQ+ inclusivity across all USL communities. The project, which aims to kick off on May 17 – the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia – will activate especially around key awareness dates, and shine the spotlight on community members, fans and businesses across the USL.
“The Forever Proud project is a good first step in a long-term journey towards creating a more inclusive soccer community,” said USL Senior Vice President Lizzie Seedhouse. “It’s our hope that this project can make a difference and increase visibility, awareness and inclusivity for the LGBTQ+ community. We will work hard to ensure that their voices are heard and valued.”
The Forever Proud Project launches with a collection of key partners already established as leaders in LGBTQ+ inclusivity in sport.
- You Can Play Project: Rooted in the mission to ensure the safety and inclusion of all LGBTQ people throughout the sports ecosystem, USL will work alongside the You Can Play Project to provide League Staff and Clubs support through educational resources, advocacy, experiential marketing consultation, and community management support.
- Football v Homophobia: The USL and Football v Homophobia’s partnership will develop cultural comprehension and grassroots programming to help remove discrimination and prejudice based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The programming will be utilized throughout the USL Youth ecosystem, impacting 12,000+ young USL athletes across the country.
- HomeField Alliance: As the first LGBTQ affinity group aimed to create a voice and resource for LGBTQ professionals in the business of sport and entertainment, HomeField Alliance and the USL will amplify the group’s purpose and mission throughout the USL ecosystem, with focuses on membership relationships, networking, workshops, and mentoring programming.
- PUMA x The Trevor Project: A strategic partnership between PUMA, The Trevor Project and the USL will deliver educational resources to support the mental health of LGBTQ young people and promote inclusive sports participation, which can help reduce risk of suicide. This initiative will be amplified by custom apparel collaborations and ladder up into PUMA’s social justice platform, #REFORM. Grounded in three core pillars — ending racial, LGBTQ+ and gender discrimination — #REFORM drives and supports social change by partnering with like-minded activists and organizations around the world.
In addition to the aforementioned partnerships, the USL, in collaboration with the USLBPA and the USL Players’ Association, is working with the Institute for Sport and Social Justice to conduct comprehensive sensitivity and unconscious bias training for all USL HQ and club staff, players, and other full-time employees.
In providing more access to educational and informational resources and tools across the USL, the league seeks to impact its athletes, coaches, family members, personnel, and fans as it raises year-round awareness for the LGBTQ+ community.