How GLSEN is Changing the Game

March 23, 2011 § 3 Comments

Imagine this: a resource which details how to improve your high school’s sport climate not just as a student, but as a coach, as an ally, and as an athletic director to benefit all students – including LGBTQ students! Sounds too good to be true, right? Using an easy to follow step by step guide teeming with recommendations and inspirational videos, GLSEN does just this with it’s “Sports Project.” And here are three reasons why you need to check it out:

1. GLSEN’s Sports Project is a game changer because it is the first of its kind to detail everything you need to do, in order to help your school/team create more respect. If you ever wanted an instruction manual on how to change the athletic climate of your school – this is it! The advice is clear and succinct and can be used by anyone making it an essential asset to all teens or school faculty promoting change.

2. The GLSEN “Game Changersboth inspires and motivates by presenting a group of straight and gay athletes and supporters who have taken a stand against inequality. Each video is well worth your time if you’re ever feeling down and want to rekindle some hope – or if you want to spread the hope to others. It is also a useful tool to show teammates and peers just who wholeheartedly supports them. For without these allies, the sports climate of today could be much more hostile than it is. Here is a fellow runner who is also a Game Changer:

3. So that you can join me in taking the “Team Respect Challenge!” This student initiative, which GLSEN is currently pushing, focuses on creating a team environment beneficial to all regardless of “race, sexuality, gender expression, and religion.” This can be achieved by speaking to your teammates, team captains, and coaches or by initiating a school wide respect pledge.

Over the next few weeks I will blog about my efforts in taking the Team Respect Challenge, offering a perspective on the ins and outs of promoting change as well as giving you some tips on what I learn!

So take a few minutes and please – check out the GLSEN Sports Project! as it is well worth your time. Then, post a comment below on your thoughts on the GLSEN sports project.

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§ 3 Responses to How GLSEN is Changing the Game

  • JC says:

    Thanks for the update, Craig. My computer doesn’t like any of the links, so will have to wait for another time for me to review. I looked at it a few days ago and had added it to my favorites, so don’t know what’s going on now. I’ll be sure to check back regularly. Sounds good from what you’ve already said.

    Read and saved the “Safe Space Kit” already. I had seen a couple posters for “Safe Space” at school a few weeks ago and didn’t know what it was – neither did anybody else on the team. Good to know that somebody at the school is aware of issues presented to gay students and is doing something about it, but there seems to be a communication gap if the student body doesn’t know what it refers to. Since I’m not a teacher, I don’t know who created the space, but can at least point students in the right direction if the need arises and I can’t help them on my own.


    • Craig says:

      Anytime JC, and that’s awesome that one of your students would post the Safe Space sticker! I find that a portion of the students who support LGBT issues at my school don’t always project the message behind the cause, but even when lacking a message at least the increased visibility is there. Once it is recognized students can move forward with the cause, hopefully this is just one step of many for them!

      As a coach, you may especially be interested in the Team Respect Challenge. I would love to hear your thoughts on it – especially since you’re coming from a very different perspective than an athlete. A perspective we need to understand if we hope to accomplish the Team Respect Challenge.

  • JC says:

    Thought you’d like to know that I talked to my past and future Cross Country captains today about bullying in general, including sexual preference/religion/ethnicity in the discussion. I think I mentioned we had an bullying incident last autumn, though the bully was from another sport. All five captains immediately recognized that we have individuals on the team that are susceptible to bullying (because of gay perceptions and otherwise) and they agreed to act as eyes and ears, as well as to say something to the violator or pass it up the chain to us coaches. I forgot to mention the Safe Space program, though!

    I mentioned GLSEN and the Sports Project Team Respect Challenge, asking them to think about the TRC. I’ll pull them aside again sometime next week to discuss further and to see if they want to do the challenge. I couldn’t get a read off them about that, but definitely got a good feel about them being supportive of the bullying issues. If they want to go further, I want this to become something that each remaining individual wants to be part of rather than “sign this and then line up for a photo” and having them do it just because their teammates are. If we get that far I’ll give them a couple days to think it through before presenting the signing sheet and photo op.

    All of that being said, part of my discussion with the captains included me telling them I’m gay, which is a contributing factor to my own awareness of bullying issues. I was expecting a reaction, but all I got was a raised eyebrow – I was expecting more than that. Now we wait and see how long it takes for other team members to find out despite my asking them to keep it between us. I’ve only had one athlete amongst the 1500+ I’ve coached tell me he’s gay; statistically there are more, including some on the team now, which obviously hadn’t seemed to occur to them, but neither did they care, that it’s ok if there are.

    Lastly, what did I think of the site and Team Respect Challenge? From what I’ve already said above, I obviously like it. I love that they’ve included both gay and straight “game changers”, demonstrating that this isn’t just a gay issue, it’s an everybody issue. My biggest concern is actually a marketing issue; how can they get word out to teams nation wide? A website is a great start, but how do you get athletes and coaches to know to look for it? During the cross country season we get several copies of “High School Runner’ magazine and it would be great to have something in there, either as an article or paid advertising. I imagine other sports have similar options. Many states have programs for their state championship football and basketball games…ads in those might be another great way to get the word out. Every state has an organizing body and/or coaches association…how many would be willing to include a GLSEN Sports Project link on their websites?


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