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Our Group relaunches as GO! Athletes, a network for high school and college athletes

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We are so thrilled to see the relaunch of Go! Athletes (formerly Our Group) this week. The organization announced a new Web site, their new name, and a new advisory board (of which I'm honored to be a part) in relaunching the organization designed by and for out and closeted high school and college athletes and allies.

The group is by athletes for athletes. Executive director Anna Aagenes, along with Jenelle DeVits, Brian Goldthorpe and Sean Smith, have built a fantastic resource to help athletes come out of the closet to their teams and build a more inclusive atmosphere on their teams.

Here's the group's "coming out" press release:

GO! Athletes is the first national network of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, and allied (LGBTQA) high school, college, and former student-athletes that serves to educate and empower. We connect LGBTQA student-athletes with other LGBTQA student-athletes, and serve as a united voice to encourage schools to create safer spaces. GO! Athletes is dedicated to educating athletes, coaches, administrators, and fans to foster athletic communities that are accepting of ALL, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

"This relaunch and changing our name from Our Group to Generation Out (GO!) Athletes symbolize that we are in a critical time for the LGBTQA sports movement,” said Anna Aagenes, the Executive Director of GO! Athletes. “Now more than ever athletes, coaches, staff, and fans are ready to be OUT or to be supportive allies. Athletics needs to be a safe space where we educate allies and empower young people to respect one another. Now truly is the time for the next generation(s) of out athletes and allies.

"The Board of Directors would like to recognize the efforts of the web development team at Yerger Tech (www.yergertech.com), which donated the time, resources, and expertise needed to build the new GO! Athletes website.

GO! Athletes is also proud to announce our relaunch event, featuring out soccer-star JOANNA LOHMAN. The event will be hosted at University of Pennsylvania, Thursday, October 11, 2012 from 7-9 pm in Bodek Lounge, Houston Hall.

The purpose of the event is to raise awareness on the subject of homophobia and discrimination in sports and also to provide opportunities for the scholar athlete community to come together to hear stories by OUT sports role models. GO! Athletes envisions this relaunch as the first of many awareness-building initiatives to occur across the nation. We will also be announcing SURPRISE GUESTS attending the event in the upcoming weeks.

GO! Athletes was born as Our Group in January of 2008. Seven current and former LGBTQA student-athletes came together to discuss the different issues and challenges that LGBTQA student-athletes face, and more importantly, the different ways that they could help eliminate the homophobia that exists within athletics. They believed that by creating a space (and a network) where student-athletes could access existing resources for LGBTQA athletes, as well as safely and easily communicate with other student-athletes in the same position, that they could help the many athletes who feel they must remain in the closet to participate in sport.

With the help of John Amaechi, Pat Griffin, Jeff Sheng, and Ted Rybka, this group of athletes started the arduous task of locating and contacting other LGBTQA student-athletes in order to make the dream of creating an LGBTQA student-athlete and ally organization a reality.

Since GO! Athletes began in 2008, we have been spreading the word about homophobia, transphobia, sexism, and other forms of intolerance in the world of athletics through our national network of athletes. Individually and collectively, our Board of Directors and founding members have traveled across the country and the world in order to speak and serve as role models for other LGBTQA student athletes. Over the years, we have spoken with countless student athletes, coaches, staff, and fans, who are looking to come out and find support on their athletic communities. Specific services offered by GO! Athletes include:

  • Peer support for individual LGBTQA student athletes, coaches and administrators on coming out, finding allies, and networking with other LGBTQA individuals
  • Consultation to allies and LGBTQA athletes looking to empower themselves and their teams by creating their own “GO! Athletes” type organizations at their schools
  • Speaking engagements (individual presentations or group panels) to facilitate discussions on homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, and anti-bullying in sports
  • Workshops on LGBTQA athletes in sports featuring topics such as LGBTQA 101 and how to identity negative language and promote positive team culture