With several leading organizations and scores of individual activists advocating for LGBT equality in sports, collaboration (as always in athletics) is key.
Last weekend marked the first-ever Nike LGBT Sports Summit, the purpose of which was to create a collaborative strategy among leaders in the LGBT sports movement. My takeaway for Athlete Ally and all other persons and organizations active in this space is that the depth and breadth of our impact depends upon our ability to work together.
With that sentiment in mind, I am proud to announce a new partnership between Athlete Ally and the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD). In addition to Athlete Ally's current partnership with the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, which sponsors our website and online outreach, Athlete Ally is joining forces with GLAAD to offer LGBT-ally trainings to all 153 major-league sports teams in the NFL, MLB, MLS, NBA, WNBA and NHL.
Today more than ever, athletes, coaches, and fans are realizing that being welcoming, standing for inclusion, and ending bullying are the right things to do. Professional players and sports franchises have the power to affirm, connect, and inspire people around the world by taking small steps based on simple ideas like integrity and respect.
As GLAAD President Herndon Graddick notes, "This is not about politics, it's about being respectful of fans, personnel, and athletes of all levels who just happen to be LGBT." Through our partnership with GLAAD, we will work with professional sports in ways that focus less on specific issues like marriage and more on building successful sports programs through respectful and inclusive dialogues, policies, and practices.
With over 40 Athlete Ally Ambassador Programs at colleges and universities around the country, Athlete Ally has seen major progress unfold within dozens of collegiate sports programs, and we are delighted to be collaborating with GLAAD to make similar strides in professional sports.
See photos of Athlete Allies in college sports programs across the country: