LGBT Student-Athletes: 3 Best Practices for Inclusion

Including LGBT Student-Athletes

Posted by Shelley Kilpatrick on 23 June 2016 |

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Title IX & LGBT Student-Athletes

lgbt student athleteMost people may think of Title IX as the law that mandates gender equality in sports. Of course as we’ve discussed before, it’s actually so much more. However, it does still address sex discrimination among college athletes—which includes LGBT students.

Colleges and universities have made a lot of progress over the years to include LGBT student athletes, but these students still face more hardship when it comes to harassment and discrimination than their heterosexual and cisgender counterparts.

Barriers LGBT Student-Athletes Face to Inclusion

A 2012 report from Campus Pride, a national nonprofit organization for student leaders and campus groups working to create a safer college environment for LGBTQ students, surveyed 8,481 student-athletes at 164 NCAA member institutions and discovered:

  • 18 percent of LGBT student-athletes reported experiencing harassment; more than twice the amount heterosexual student-athletes experienced
  • Of those, 39 percent stated the reason for the harassment was their sexual identity
  • The main form of harassment LGBT student-athletes experienced was being deliberately ignored or excluded
  • LGBT student athletes were the target of derogatory remarks via electronic means almost twice as frequently as heterosexual student-athletes

The report concludes that, “In general, LGBQ student-athletes experience a more negative climate than their heterosexual peers and although sexual identity is not a direct predictor of the outcomes, the way LGBQ student-athletes experience the climate indirectly affects their academic success as well as their athletic identity.”

To combat this negative experience, there are many things your campus can do.

3 Best Practices for Inclusion

Develop Policies

In its guidelines for transgender student-athletes, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) recommends developing inclusive non-discrimination and harassment policies that include gender identity and sexual orientation.

“These policy statements, if followed, protect schools, administrators, student-athletes, and coaches from litigation and other negative consequences. Coaches should know that they may have a transgender student-athlete on their teams and should be equipped to make that experience a positive one for the athlete and teammates.”

Provide Training

Colleges and universities that receive federal funds are required to offering training that covers Title IX, VAWA and the Clery Act. Plus, most campuses also provide additional training to protect employees from unlawful harassment.

These trainings should include sections on how to comply with the laws when it comes to your campus’s LGBT population. Additionally, you can offer diversity training that covers these issues more in-depth and provides extra guidance on how to foster inclusion among LGBT students, faculty and staff.

Encourage Straight Allies

Another recommended strategy from the NCAA is to encourage straight allies: “Straight allies take advantage of their leadership opportunities in athletics to provide positive examples and set the tone for a team climate of inclusion and respect for all.”

The NCAA suggests that in order to create positive change, coaches and players who want to be straight allies can take the following actions:

  • Let teammates and friends know that anti-LGBT slurs are unacceptable
  • Join or start a Gay-Straight Alliance to promote inclusion
  • Make your own “You Can Play” video to announce your support
  • Let the LGBT student-athlete know that you are there to support them

Key Takeaways

Even though colleges and universities have made significant progress when it comes to equality in athletics, LGBT student-athletes still face higher rates of harassment and discrimination.

But there are ways campuses can take action to promote inclusion. Three of the ways we mentioned include developing policies, providing training and encouraging straight allies.

What are some other ways your school promotes LGBT inclusion?

 

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