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Conversation: How to support an LGBTQ athlete coming out on your team

Five coaches from across sports discussed how to handle the situation when an LGBTQ athlete comes out on your team.

NCAA Division I Women’s Soccer Championship
Five coaches will share their insights from working with LGBTQ athletes who have come out on their teams.
Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

Editor’s Note: During the conversation “transgender” was accidentally used as a noun. It’s important to use “transgender” as an adjective, which is what it is, as in “transgender person” or “transgender athlete.” Anti-trans people use “transgender” as a noun in a sign of disrespect and dehumanization.

How does a coach handle an athlete coming out as LGBTQ on their team?

It’s a question asked by coaches all the time. Many of them are concerned they will mishandle the moment, which could be an important step in their athlete’s life.

Tuesday night, we heard from people who have been through this very situation, some of them multiple times. We’re partnering with GO! Space and Equality Coaching Alliance on the event.

We brought together five coaches, across sports, genders and areas of the United States, ready to talk about having athletes come out to them as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer. And some of the stories will surprise you.

All of them had important personal insights into how to support the athlete, as well as keep the team moving forward toward success and victory.

Speakers included:

  • Kirk Walker, UCLA softball (moderator)
  • Doshia Woods, Tulane women’s basketball
  • Imran Malik, Arizona State rowing
  • Amanda Scott, Univ. of Missouri-St. Louis softball
  • Jeremy Bennett, Mullen High School (Colo.) football

If you’re LGBTQ and a current or former high school or college athlete, check out GO! Space. If you’re a professional or Olympic athlete, or you are a coach or sports administrator, Equality Coaching Alliance is for you.