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LGBT athlete leadership conference heads to New York high school basketball Tuesday

Out gay high school coach Anthony Nicodemo teams up with the You Can Play project and GO! Athletes for the first project funded by the LGBT Sports Coalition and Nike's #BeTrue campaign.

The Saunders High School basketball team has worn the #BeTrue colors regularly since coach Anthony Nicodemo came out as gay.
The Saunders High School basketball team has worn the #BeTrue colors regularly since coach Anthony Nicodemo came out as gay.

A groundbreaking student-athlete leadership conference will take place Tuesday in Yonkers, N.Y., organized by Saunders basketball coach Anthony Nicodemo. The conference aims to teach key leadership skills to high school basketball captains in several counties just north of New York City. Those leadership skills will include consideration of LGBT teammates. The captains themselves will write an inclusion policy to bring back to their schools. In addition, some coaches will take part in LGBT sensitivity training.

The project is a joint venture between the Lower Hudson Basketball Coaches Association, the You Can Play project and GO! Athletes. It's the first project funded by the LGBT Sports Coalition through through Nike's #BeTrue line of merchandise. Various other LGBT sports leaders and Coalition members are working on the project, including Pat GriffinChris MosierNora Cothren and SHAPE America.

"I'm excited," said LHBCA chairman Nicodemo. "Having the first thing the Coalition funds be in basketball, I'm proud of that. So many of the people who have supported me, like Wade Davis and Patrick Burke and Pat Griffin Griffin will come meet some of my peers. That's cool."

The reaction to Nicodemo's coming out has led him to believe the biggest hurdle we face before ending homophobia and transphobia in sports is having these conversations.

"Education is the bottom line in everything," Nicodemo said. "The kids just need to be educated. My players didn't know any gay people before I came out. Now they know me. If they can hear James Nutter's story and Miah Register's story, maybe then one of them will stop something they hear in the hallway or one of them is gay and they'll feel better. I'm hoping it opens their eyes to something they may not know about."

Check out the Lower Hudson Journal News for more on the conference.