Thursday, April 10, 2014 was a human rights milestone in the life of the University of Wisconsin - Superior. On that day we, as a community, stood as one in our commitment to making life better for lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgendered people on our campus. My name is Dr. Terencio Daunte McGlasson, I am a gay, Latino professor of counseling and I have the privilege of sharing our story.
UW - Superior is a small, liberal arts university in northern Wisconsin, just across the bridge from Duluth, MN. Last autumn, I sat down with three of my colleagues -- Steve Nelson (Athletic Director), Tammy Fanning (Associate Dean of Students), Jack Hajewski (videographer and beloved alumnus) -- and we took the first steps on what would become a remarkable journey. Our goal: to participate in the national You Can Play project. Outsports.com readers know well that the You Can Play project is a human rights initiative that invites professional, collegiate and high school athletic programs to record their pledge to make their locker rooms and arenas of competition, safe spaces for LGBT student-athletes, free from homophobic slurs and discriminatory behavior based on sexual orientation or gender identification. So that was our vision - our charge and it has proven to be one of the most inspiring projects I have ever participated in. The University of Wisconsin - Superior, the smallest campus in the UW system, turned out to be (to our best knowledge) the first school in all of Wisconsin and Minnesota to sign on to this incredible project...a distinction I hope will be long remembered.
After months of work, April 10th was set aside for a campus-wide celebration banquet...our chance to proudly exclaim, "Look what we did." And what a celebration it was! In a room filled with more than 200 people including several local news stations and Wisconsin Public Radio, the audience was inspired by two men well known to this readership: Derek Schell of Hillsdale College in Michigan, the first openly-gay NCAA Division II basketball player who personally recorded message of support and Mr. Scott Cooper, an openly gay linebacker who played two seasons with the Augsburg College football team in Minneapolis who was our engaging and inspirational guest speaker. The event concluded with the public unveiling of the UW Superior, You Can Play video and a resounding standing ovation...truly a memorable day.
I simply can't say enough on behalf of the nearly 80 courageous Yellowjacket student-athletes and coaches who, in addition to appearing in the video, also underwent three hours of Safe Zone training so that they would have the basic information and skills they would need if an LGBT individual came to them in need of support. And in fact, in the midst of this project, one of our athletes did choose to come out to his team, a true testament to the power of this project. Now several days later as I write, I am deeply moved and still engaged in the process of understanding what this experience really was. My university -- our athletes and coaches -- sent a strong message that we are trying to live up to our mission of embodying "...respect for diverse cultures and multiple voices."
At the end of the video, following the seemingly endless stream of young, sincere faces and poignant pledges, I appear on screen reciting the eternal words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, originally written on the margins of a newspaper from his jail cell in Birmingham: "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly." I hope he would be proud.
Terencio Daunte McGlasson is Assistant Professor of Guidance & Counseling at the University of Wisconsin - Superior. Dr. McGlasson's nearly twenty years of clinical experience inform his expertise in the classroom, teaching courses primarily dealing with professional practice and social justice. His research and writing interests focus on lesbian and gay issues, spirituality and postmodern approaches to counseling and he frequently presents at regional and national conferences. He is active in his advocacy for the LGBT community and has also served abroad as a consultant and humanitarian volunteer in India, Nicaragua and Brazil.