The announcement caught Kansas State alumnus Cameron Banning by surprise: his alma mater was planning to raise money for an anti-LGBTQ youth organization.
On Sunday, K-State is holding the the inaugural Jordy Nelson Legends Classic charity softball game. Several Wildcat legends, including Nelson, are slated to appear at the event. As the head of K-State’s alumni club in Austin, Texas, Banning was tempted to drive 10 hours north to Manhattan to catch the game.
Then he saw where the proceeds were going: The K-State Football Walk-On Scholarship, and Young Life Manhattan. Young Life is a Christian youth group that prohibits LGBTQ people from taking leadership positions — unless they are celibate. The policy came to light last summer, when a leaked document outlined the organization’s expectations for its leaders.
Banning knows Young Life well. He was involved in the program for many years as a child. Though Banning has positive memories from his experiences at Young Life, he felt the need to contact K-State, and let them know about the group’s attitudes towards gay people.
“I’ve never seen K-State athletics raise money this way for these types of organizations,” Banning told Outsports. “This seemed really unique. When I saw it was for Manhattan Young Life, I was like, ‘I’ve got to reach out.’ I didn’t even think twice about it.”
K-State listened to the protests from Banning and others. The school confirmed to Outsports that Young Life will no longer receive proceeds from the softball game. Funds will now be split between the Jordy Nelson Greater Community Foundation and K-State Athletics.
“K-State Athletics is committed to creating and maintaining an environment that embraces and celebrates diversity, while intentionally promoting and practicing inclusion,” Kenny Lannou, the school’s executive associate athletics director for communications, told Outsports in an email.
Lannou also highlighted K-State’s efforts with local retailers to create t-shirts and merchandise featuring both the Powercat logo and LGBTQ rainbow for the first time in the school’s history.
That’s the K-State that Banning knows and loves.
“I’m a diehard K-State fan,” Banning said. “I’ve been going to game every single year since 1996. I absolutely bleed purple. K-State runs through my veins.”
It’s great to see that K-State is returning the love to Banning, and all members of its LGBTQ community.