Campus Pride Plans First LGBT College Sports Summit At UR 2/6-7/14
The University of Richmond will host Campus Pride’s first national conference for LGBT Athletes in February 2014.
The summit is being co-sponsored by Campus Pride, the nation’s leading educational organization for student leaders and campus groups working to create safer college environments for LGBT Students.
As according to Ted Lewis, UR’s Director of LGBT Life, the idea for the conference was initiated by University of Richmond’s Athletics Department. “They had been doing some great internal work on creating affirming team spaces for LGBTQ student-athletes,” said Lewis. “But (they) felt they needed to engage in a regional conversation as well as a conversation within our A-10 Conference on how LGBTQ student-athletes fit into athletics culture.”
Lewis was able to connect UR with Campus Pride to help co-plan the conference. Campus Pride is the nation’s largest organization focused on fostering queer activism in colleges; “They were the one’s who took this small idea and made it into a truly spectacular occasion,” said Lewis.
Shane Windmeyer, Executive Director of Campus Pride, said events like these hope to support the wave of LGBT athletes coming out in modern athletic programs. “The Campus Pride College Sports Summit will provide the necessary education and training to improve the quality of sports and recreation experiences and to assist intercollegiate athletics and collegiate recreation in becoming more LGBT inclusive in its policies, programs and practices.”
According to Windmeyer, the summit is in response to both positive and negative LGBT news headlines dealing with athletes and the growing demand for training and resources to “dig deeper for systemic change in collegiate sports.”
Campus Pride also plans to utilize the summit as a way to test its new Campus Pride Sports Index. The index is the first of its kind and will allow colleges and universities to benchmark LGBT-friendly policies, programs and practices in college athletics and recreational sports.
Campus Pride already runs a Higher-Ed Campus Climate Index with local universities VCU at 3/5 stars and UR at 4/5 stars.
The summit will focus on research findings from the Campus Pride report, LGBTQ student-athlete experiences, training resources and recommended best practices to prevent harassment in college sports. Workshops and panels will also be presented on a range of LGBT topics in sports.
Former UR student athlete, Kevin Grayson, who came out earlier this year, will be a panelist at the conference as well. “I’m participating because I feel it is important to athletes who are still afraid to come out and also so that it will continue to raise more awareness about homosexuality in sports.” Grayson was closeted until he graduated from UR.
The committed energy and excitement for the conference is exhibited by comments from administrators like Associate Director of Athletics LaRee Sugg, “University of Richmond is committed to LGBT inclusion and our Department of Athletics is proud to partner with Campus Pride; The Campus Pride College Sports Summit is one way we can work toward ensuring our community and other campuses are an inclusive, welcoming and safe environment for all student-athletes, staff, coaches, boosters and fans.”
UR’s Office of Common Ground, Department of Recreation & Wellness and the Division of Student Development, and national partners Ben Cohen StandUp Foundation and GO! Athlete, the only LGBTQ athlete led organization in the country, will also be supporting the event.
The Campus Pride College Sports Summit to be held February 6 & 7, 2014.
Details and tickets are available online here
Jon Henry comes from the small town of Washington, Virginia. Xe finished xes degree at the University of Richmond and was named GayRVA.com's Out.Spoken. Richmonder of the Year for 2011. When not in class, xe is either in the studio or rabble rousing with other queer activists. Follow xem on Twitter.
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