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Division III introduces LGBTQ resources

The Division III LGBTQ Working Group has released important new resources for Division III members. The working group — the first of its kind in any division — has spent nearly two years examining the current programming, resources, and recognition of the LGBTQ community and its allies in Division III and identifying areas where additional efforts could prove beneficial.

The working group sent a survey to Division III members last fall, asking them to outline their current inclusion efforts for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning community and what they hope to do in the future. The working group also relied on straw poll feedback gathered at the 2018 NCAA Convention.

“As a gay coach and administrator, it is personally exciting to be a part of NCAA’s commitment to improve inclusion through the DIII LGBTQ Working Group,” said Neil Virtue, working group chair and Mills swimming coach. “Being more intentionally inclusive with populations who are marginalized will help with recruiting and retaining students and staff, which will help our institutions and those individuals thrive. We hope DIII athletic departments will lead the way to say and show that all of everyone’s identities matter on sports teams.”

You spoke, they listened

The Division III LGBTQ Working Group used a 2017 membership survey that yielded more than 4,500 responses to help shape its work. A snapshot of key findings:

  • 29 percent of respondents reported LGBTQ staff trainings do not take place on their campuses.
  • 25 percent of respondents indicated their athletics department’s communications and recruiting material included a nondiscrimination clause.
  • More than 33 percent of LGBTQ coaches indicated they were fearful of losing recruits because of their identity.
  • More than 80 percent of athletics and school administrators identified themselves as allies of the LGBTQ community.
  • Roughly 66 percent of student-athletes identified themselves as allies of the LGBTQ community.

Five key initiatives and resources shaped by membership feedback are either now, or soon will be, available to Division III schools and conferences:

  • Members now have access to an LGBTQ promotional kit, which includes a banner, a dozen posters and 50 stickers, all adorned with the initiative’s “ONETEAM” logo. This month, the kit is being mailed to athletics departments and conference offices, which can use them to help promote LGBTQ inclusion on their campuses and at conference championships.
  • An eight-page nondiscrimination policy guide also is now available. It can be accessed via ncaa.org and will be mailed to schools and conference offices. In the fall 2017 survey, only 30 percent of Division III athletics departments indicated they had LGBTQ nondiscrimination policies, though 85 percent of straw poll respondents indicated they would include such a policy if it were provided. This guide is designed to help bridge that gap.
  • Staff also have developed a communications plan, directed by membership feedback, to inform members of these resources and forthcoming initiatives. On social media, members should use the #d3oneteam hashtag when promoting their LGBTQ resources.
  • These resources are only the first of a continued effort by the working group to address needs members have indicated in surveys and straw polls. In 2019, the working group plans to introduce LGBTQ educational programming, likely built around training individuals who can then hold training sessions on their own campuses. (Similar to the approach taken for the Game Day the DIII Way Initiative.)
  • An LGBTQ promotional/celebratory event also might be held in 2019, though the details still are being finalized.