Inclusion of LGBT in Collegiate Athletics


The soon to be president of the United States and his vice president have stressed their opposition to some of the policies that deal with the Lesbian-Gay-Bisexual-Transgender communities.

One area that has been gaining more and more attention is the inclusion and acceptance of LGBT members into not only professional but collegiate athletics.

Jill Pilgrim, who is a member of the Precise Advisory Group, says, “Colleges need to adopt transgender student-athlete accommodation policies to remedy the silent suffering of young people who have the right to participate and enjoy the same activities that all other students have access to, without being discriminated against.”

The NCAA released a statement saying, “All stakeholders in NCAA athletics programs will benefit from adopting fair and inclusive practices enabling transgender student-athletes to participate on school sports teams.”

The NCAA says, “School-based sports, even at the most competitive levels, remain an integral part of the process of education and development of young people, especially emerging leaders in our society. Adopting fair and inclusive participation practices will allow school and athletics leaders to fulfill their commitment to create an environment in which all students can thrive, develop their full potential, and learn how to interact with persons from diverse groups.”

Equality is most important. Everyone, regardless of gender or sexual orientation, should be given the chance to compete in sports at the highest level.

Heather Weems, athletic director at St. Cloud State, said, “Awareness and advocacy have grown substantially over the past two decades. That said, there is so much involved in an individual’s decision to come out publicly and to the team that there remains room for progress.”

Weems went on, “Anecdotally, I believe it is still more accepted for our female student-athletes than our male. And there can be additional challenges for coaches. Departments and universities need to continue to show support and provide resources for LGBT students, and to educate teams, coaches, and support staff.”

When all participants in athletics are committed to fair play, inclusion, and respect, student athletes are free to focus on performing their best in athletic competition and in the classroom. The NCAA says this climate promotes the well-being and achievement potential of all student-athletes.

The NCAA firmly believes that every student-athlete and coach will benefit from meeting the challenge of overcoming fear and prejudice about social groups of which they are not members.

“This respect for difference will be invaluable to all student-athletes as they graduate and enter an increasingly diverse workforce in which knowing how to work effectively across differences is a professional and personal asset.”

Weems said the most effective change the NCAA has made has been putting together resources to help coaches and their administrators to help those students. Weems said they have provided guidance related to the science of those undergoing sex reassignment.

“Given the hormones utilized, treatments can have an impact on performance, especially as it relates to male-to-female transition,” Weems said.

Former collegiate basketball and rugby player Morgan Dickens said in an interview, “When I started presenting in a more masculine way, I was ostracized in girls’ locker rooms, told I was in the wrong bathroom, and even once had my gender questioned during a co-ed intramural football game.”

Dickens went on, “While I’m prepared to handle it, my concern is there aren’t many other people out there who are prepared and willing to engage in a dialogue about the presence of gender fluid athletes in sport.”

The NCAA says that the three best practices for inclusion are to; Provide equal opportunity, value diversity, and establish policy.

AD Weems said, “Inclusivity as a philosophy is positive to sport, including collegiate sport. The challenge is to ensure a level playing field in the case of sex reassignment, and to provide clear and consistent rules related to its impact on sport participation for the individual, family, and teams/programs.”

When it comes to collegiate coaches, the NCAA has released a list of what it believes to be the best practices.

In the NCAA Handbook for LGBT Inclusion, Coach Jennifer Hartshorn said, ““I think it’s important for us to be aware there are transgender student athletes who want to compete, and with a little preparation, including transgender athletes isn’t a big deal.”

It is obvious to see that treating LGBT athletes fairly is all about being aware and courteous to the student athlete.

If you don’t know how to interact with them appropriately; The NCAA says just ask.

The LGBT community is willing to educate on anything that the other side doesn’t know.


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