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It Takes A Team!

Education Campaign for LGBT Issues in Sport

(This story was published in 2005).

By: Pat Griffin

When I was invited to become the director for It Takes A Team! last February, it seemed like a perfect match: Me, an educator, activist, author, former coach and athlete who has dedicated my professional life to addressing LGBT issues in sport and education, and It Takes A Team!, a project of the Women’s Sports Foundation, devoted to making sport a safe and respectful place for LGBT participants. After being on the job for seven months, I am still as excited about what It Takes A Team! brings to the LGBT sports movement as I was last February.

Our name, It Takes A Team!, reflects our belief that it really does take the commitment and actions of lots of people, gay and straight, to make sports a welcoming place for LGBT athletes and coaches. We believe that everyone on a team benefits when LGBT people are treated with respect and fairness.

It Takes A Team! is dedicated to developing and disseminating information and resources about LGBT issues in sport to athletic administrators, coaches, athletes and parents. We focus on high school and collegiate athletics but also provide resources to youth sports groups and Olympic and professional sport organizations. We have endorsements from a variety of national organizations such as the National Center for Lesbian Rights, The Transgender Law Center, the Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network, Parents, Family and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, The National Collegiate Athletic Association, theNational Association for Girls and Women in Sport, The Gay Straight Alliance Network, the Anti-Defamation League and theCenter for the Study of Sport and Society who share our vision of a safe and respectful sport climate for LGBT athletes and coaches.

Our Web site, www.ItTakesATeam.org, includes current opinion polls and news related to LGBT issues in sport, and it invites visitors to our site to tell us their sport stories. The Web site features our It Takes A Team! education kit, which is the most comprehensive collection of practical information available for addressing LGBT issues in sport. Almost all of the information and resources in the kit are downloadable free.

The centerpiece of the kit is a 15-minute video, It Takes A Team: Making Sport Safe for Lesbian and Gay Coaches and Athletes. This video highlights the experiences of several high school and college lesbian and gay athletes and their coaches and teammates. The video is a great way to spark a good discussion of LGBT issues in sport among athletes, coaches or any group interested in sports. We provide discussion questions, sample plans for organizing a video/discussion group and guidelines for ensuring respectful and effective discussions. Hand outs for participants include action guides for athletic administrators, coaches, athletes and parents, and they provide specific suggestions for making athletics safe for all.

In addition, the kit includes a list of frequently asked questions about LGBT issues in sport and some short answers. This section is followed up by a more extensive discussion of selected topics, called “Chalk Talk,” and recommendations for addressing them. Topics such as Negative Recruiting in Women’s Sports, Addressing Fears of Sexual Harassment in Sport, Religion and Homosexuality in Sport, Including Transgender Athletes and Athletic Team Hazing and Homophobia are addressed here.

Practical information developed by other LGBT organizations is also available in the kit: A summary of laws and procedures related to LGBT discrimination and harassment in athletics is provided by the Sports Project of the National Center for Lesbian Rights. The Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network (GLSEN) provides several guidelines for addressing LGBT harassment in schools. The kit also includes a comprehensive and up-to-date list of resources; including books, web sites, videos and organizations; that address LGBT issues in sports.

We have also developed downloadable “Safe Space” stickers especially for athletics and a 16x10 inch color poster, “It Takes A Team! Making Sports Safe for All” to display in locker rooms, coach offices or school hallways.

We invite you to join our team to help make sport a safe and respectful place for all LGBT people. Here are some ideas about how you can join our team:

· Visit the It Takes A Team web site and sign up to receive our monthly newsletter
· Download some of our resources and use them in your athletic program
· Order an It Takes A Team education kit for your high school or college athletic program
· Send an email to It Takes A Team about resources or programs you’d like to see us develop
· Volunteer to help us spread the word about It Takes A Team! to athletic administrators, coaches, athletes and parents
· Make a financial donation to help us continue our work to make sport a safe and respectful place for LGBT people.