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National Think Tank on religion and LGBT athletes this week at the NCAA

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Participants will develop best practices and policies to create environments that are respectful of religious beliefs, sexual orientation, and gender identity/expression

Steve Dykes

(Indianapolis, IN, November 3, 2014)- A newly formed think tank of college, LGBT, sports, and religious leaders will convene in Indianapolis on November 4-5, 2014 to establish best practices and policies so college athletes and coaches can fully participate in their chosen sport regardless of religious beliefs, sexual orientation, and gender identity or expression.

Through the convening, "Seeking Common Ground: Creating a Respectful Athletic Climate for Athletes and Coaches of All Religious Perspectives, Sexual Orientation, and Gender Identity or Expression," the think tank will develop the first-ever suggested guidelines so faith-based schools, public schools, and private secular schools across the country can provide inclusive and respectful athletic environments.

The think tank, comprised of leaders from faith-based colleges, public colleges, private secular colleges, LGBT organizations, religious organizations, and sports, will be led by Nevin Caple of Br{ache The Silence, Karen Morrison of the NCAA Office of Inclusion, Helen Carroll of the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), and Dr. Pat Griffin. Other participants include Mike Alden, Director of Athletics at the University of Missouri, Brent Childers, Executive Director of Faith in America, and Joe Bednash, Director of Athletics, Physical Education, and Recreation at Yeshiva University. By fall 2015, the think tank will publish its suggestions.

The think tank is made possible through a grant from the LGBT Sports Coalition. The coalition is a group of organizations, athletes, sports professionals, and advocates working to end anti-LGBT bias in sports. The meeting will be held at the NCAA National Headquarters.

"One of the great appeals of participation in collegiate sports is that student-athletes from diverse backgrounds and identities, including religion and spirituality, come together to compete as a team," said Carroll, NCLR's Sports Project Director. "When a team performs at its best, every individual is respected and the differences they bring to the competitive experience are valued enabling team members to focus more completely on achieving individual and team competitive goals."

Added Griffin: "I am excited to be a part of this important discussion. Creating common ground in athletics for athletes and coaches of all religious perspectives, sexual orientations, and gender identities is all about respect and I think that is something we all understand regardless of our differences."

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The coalition is an association of organizations and individuals committed to ending anti-LGBT bias in sports by 2016. It was formalized at the LGBT Sports Summit in Portland, Ore., in June 2013. Coalition member organizations include GLAAD, National Center for Lesbian Rights, It Gets Better, National Soccer Coaches Association of America LGBT Committee, Equality Coaching Alliance, You Can Play, GLSEN and Ben Cohen StandUp Foundation, GO! Athletes, Women's Sports Foundation, NIRSA Leaders in Collegiate Recreation, SHAPE America, Federation of Gay Games, Cyd Zeigler & Jim Buzinski of Outsports, Campus Pride, Br{ache The Silence, NCAA Office of Inclusion, International Gay and Lesbian Football Association. Individual members include Diana Cutaia, Chris Mosier, Stephanie Wheeler, Laurie Priest, Jeff Sheng, Erin Buzuvis & Pat Griffin, Anthony Nicodemo, Jeff Sheng, Kirk Walker, Christina Kahrl, Sue Rankin, Sherri Murrell, Nora Cothren & Caitlin Cahow. Find out more at https://www.facebook.com/lgbtsportscoalition

The National Center for Lesbian Rights is a national legal organization committed to advancing the human and civil rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education. www.NCLRights.org

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