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Five ways to have an LGBTQ-inclusive athletics department

This resource serves as a guide to ensure athletics departments are providing an environment that is inclusive of all student-athletes, especially those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and/or questioning.  Included in this resource are samples of policies and codes of conduct; additional resources for coaches, players and staff; and LGBTQ inclusion training best practices. Click here for the PDF

1. LGBTQ-Inclusive Nondiscrimination Policies

Athletics departments should have a written nondiscrimination policy that explicitly covers “sexual orientation,” “gender identity” and “gender expression" to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning people.

  • Click here for sample language to be used in athletics department handbooks.

  • Click here for the NCAA Inclusion of Transgender Student-Athletes guide, which includes gender identity and gender nonconforming policies.

2. LGBTQ-Inclusive Codes of Conduct

Athletics departments should ban anti-LGBTQ conduct by players, coaches, athletics administrators and fans.

Team Code of Conduct: Teams should be encouraged to create codes of conduct outlining consequences for engaging in homophobic and transphobic behaviors.

Fan Code of Conduct: Fans should not be subjected to discriminatory language and behavior by those on the field or in the stands. Values and expectations should be communicated to fans via the school’s official fan code of conduct.

3. Communications

Athletics departments should ensure all media communications and recruiting materials (media guides, community outreach, team camp brochures, etc.) include a nondiscrimination clause and use LGBTQ-inclusive language.

4. Accessible Resources

Athletics departments should maintain up-to-date LGBTQ inclusion resources that are readily available to coaches, players and staff throughout the year.

5. Annual LGBTQ Inclusion Trainings for Staff and Students

Athletics departments should hold timely mandatory training sessions that review policies and codes of conduct, as this is essential to creating LGBTQ-inclusive environments.

  • Click here for LGBTQ inclusion training best practices

Resources:

Sample Language To Be Used in Athletics Department Handbooks

  •  “The athletics department prohibits discrimination based on race, sex, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.”
  •  “As an athletics department that respects and celebrates inclusion, (school X athletics) prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.”

Note: If the school already has a policy that covers sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination, the policy should be explicitly referenced in athletics department materials (e.g., student handbook, website, etc.).

Sample Team Code of Conduct

  • “Respect and sportsmanship are core values of this team. All members of this team are expected to reflect these core values in their words and conduct toward members of marginalized communities, including (but not limited to) the LGBTQ community.”
  • “Respect and sportsmanship are core values of this team. All members of this team are expected to reflect these core values in their words and conduct. Racist, sexist, homophobic, biphobic, and/or transphobic language or conduct will not be tolerated.”

Sample Fan Code of Conduct

  •  “(Insert School Name) expects fans to enjoy the game experience free from fighting, thrown objects, attempts to enter the playing field, political or inciting messages and disorderly behavior, including foul, sexist, racist, homophobic, transphobic, obscene or abusive language or gestures.”

LGBTQ Inclusion Training Best Practices

  • As a best practice, LGBTQ inclusion training should:
    • Be held at least once each academic year.
    • Be mandatory for all coaches, players and staff.
    • Review all LGBTQ harassment policies and team codes of conduct.
  • This training can be integrated into similar training programs (e.g., CHAMPS) or, depending on time, resources and capacity, a separate training program can be developed.
  • Athletics departments also should maintain up-to-date LGBTQ inclusion resources that are readily available to coaches, players and staff throughout the year, for review between training programs.

Printable Resources:

Sports-Specific Resources (free and printable)
Books and Films (available for purchase)
General LGBTQ Resources (free and printable)

Web Resources:

Sports-Specific Websites (internet only, free)
LGBTQ General Websites (internet only, free)