Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to attend PrideWorks at Pace University. I attended last year and was thrilled to be asked back by Anthony Nicodemo, who puts together a panel discussion for this conference annually. Over 600 LGBTQ and ally youth attended this year’s conference. What an awesome opportunity to let young people know they can be queer and be successful in sports!
This year, Anthony, Derek Schell, and I spoke with high school students about our experiences as LGBTQ athletes and coaches. We talked about making the team atmosphere more inclusive, interrupting biased comments and actions, being a good ally, and how to navigate the coming out experience on a team.
A few athletes asked for help with deciding on a college – would their identity hurt them in the recruiting process? Would they be able to be out on a team, or would they have to be closeted? Derek’s story was helpful for the students to hear and weight the options. Derek attended a very conservative college and struggled for a long time with trying to hide his identity from his team and those around him. We discussed how students could determine if a college was LGBTQ friendly, and how to assess the athletic department and team cultures as well.
After the presentations, a few students told me they attended last year and returned to hear me again – which was very nice. There were plenty of new faces in the audience as well, and the most valuable part of the session for me was our Q&A, where the students shared their own experiences as an LGB person or as an ally. Hearing them talk about their experiences gave all of us on the panel an inside look as to what it’s like in high schools for athletes today.
We shared our resources, listed below for you as well:
GO! Athletes for support and community – GO! Athletes is the largest network of current and former LGBTQ student athletes
Trans*Athlete for trans*-inclusive policies – Trans*Athlete is a resource for athletes, coaches, and administrators on trans*-inclusive policies at various levels of play
Campus Pride for college assessment – Campus Pride’s annual index and sport’s index can help students make informed decisions about their education
You Can Play for visible signs of support – many athletes have made You Can Play videos
Big thank you to Anthony for having me be a part of this awesome event again!