The Sports Equality Foundation has named nine LGBT youth to its student-advisory committee. The committee is designed to provide the Foundation with direction on how to best inspire current student-athletes to come out and be their true selves.
- Jacob Cruny, tennis, Montour (Penn.) High School
- Chandler Frumin, crew, University of Tennessee
- Alejandro Graterol, baseball, Skyline High School (Wash.)
- Sonia Johnson, soccer, DePaul University (Ill.)
- Ayrton Kasemets, swimming, Oakland University (Mich.)
- Jake Leffew, golf, Yale University (Conn.)
- Taylor Reifert, soccer, Lawrence University (Wis.)
- Garrett White, track and field, Pinkerton (N.H.) High School
A ninth student-athlete has been selected but is not yet out to his team or many people in his personal life. His perspective will bring another dimension to a group that represents incredible diversity across race, gender, sport, religion, area of the country and level of sport.
"We have a really powerful group of young people coming in to help with the structuring and shaping of the direction and impact of this foundation," said student-athlete advisory committee chair Conner Mertens, who plays football for Willamette University. "These folks have been doing amazing work in their own regard and bringing them together will only enhance that work. From athletes still in the closet to very public advocates, every athlete on our advisory council brings a unique and inspiring perspective. I couldn't be more excited and proud to be working with such impressive young people."
Each of the student-athletes will participate at some level of sport in the 2016-17 school year.
The Sports Equality Foundation was formed earlier this year to empower LGBT athletes, coaches and sports leaders as they come out and work for inclusion and acceptance across sports at all levels. The Foundation emphasizes the importance of the cycle of coming out in improving the culture of sports for LGBT people.
The forming of the student-advisory committee was one of the top priorities for the Sports Equality Foundation to ensure accountability to the very demographic the Foundation most seeks to help.
"These young people give us deep insight into the reality of life today in sports," said SEF board member Anthony Nicodemo. "I think that far too often the actual LGBT student-athletes get left out of the decision-making process for activists and advocacy groups. With the SEF really supporting visibility, this is a chance to engage current student-athletes on various situations they may encounter on a daily basis and what we can do to help create change."
The foundation will continue to add members to the student-athlete advisory committee. Interested student-athletes can find the application form at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/SEFSTUDENT-ATHLETE.
Editor's Note: Cyd Zeigler is on the board of the Sports Equality Foundation.