The NSCAA is committed to helping all members learn the importance of inclusion of the lesbian, gay, bisexual , transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) community; encourage participation in all activities by LGBTQ coaches, athletes, referees, administrators and fans; and welcome all allies in our organization’s ongoing effort to be a leader of inclusion in the sports world. This page is intended to provide members of this community and allies with resources to help you with any questions you may have and to give you support wherever needed.
LGBTQ Advocacy Group Rocks The Philadelphia Convention
The LGBTQ advocacy group had an active – and very productive – time at the 2015 NSCAA convention in Philadelphia.
We presented a workshop on the importance of maintaining safe, inclusive environments on teams. Nancy Feldman (Boston University) and Brienne Smith (Clark University) talked about their roles as coaches, while Atticus DeProspo (Cornell University) contributed his insights as a soccer player.
A few hours later, we hosted an informal “roundtable” discussion for anyone interested in LGBTQ issues in soccer. Two straight allies shared important thoughts on trans inclusion in programs they run, and we heard an interesting question from the director of a 5,000-member league in the Midwest. He wanted to know if the non-discrimination language he was proposing was inclusive enough for LGBTQ players and coaches. (It was!)
The next day, an energetic group of LGBTQ coaches – and allies – enjoyed a social reception. There was plenty of chatter, and lots of great networking.
The LGBTQ advocacy group left Philadelphia energized, with a number of new members, and ready to get started on this year’s projects. They include:
- Working to add diversity training to all coaching courses
- Reaching out to allies, and offering them tangible ways to declare their support for LGBTQ coaches and players
- Planning for the 2016 convention, with a big name in attendance, an interactive workshop, networking events and more
- Providing safe space for LGBTQ coaches and players – including support, as needed
- Learning, participating and belonging (and having fun!)
The LGBTQ Membership Group always welcomes new members. If you’d like to get involved – or want to know more – please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Brienne Smith is the head women’s coach at Clark University, and vice chair of the NSCAA’s LGBTQ Membership Group. In The Center Circle chats with Brienne about her playing and coaching careers, and her work as an LGBTQ advocate... Continue Reading
Creating Safe Space for LGBTQ Athletes: Be a Winning Coach
This live chat is an opportunity for coaches of all levels to learn about creating a safe space for LGBTQ athletes and the resources available to them.
When it comes to LGBTQ, many people have questions such as, "My player just came out to me, what do I do next?" or "Should I come out to my team?" The FAQ section is intended to help you answer these questions or at least guide you on where to start.
One-on-One LGBTQ Support
Whether you’ve got a quick question about LGBTQ issues, or have a complex scenario – we’re here to help. The NSCAA offers a totally anonymous, confidential service to members. Send us your question or concern. Members of our organization’s LGBTQ study group will respond soon, by email.
[+] Click here to email.
Programs and Projects
All around the country there are LGBTQ programs and projects available to get involved with. We have created a large list of opportunities for coaches and players to participate in.
News and Blogs
Read up! Hear what people just like you are saying about LGBTQ issues in sport. From personal stories to helpful tips and additional support, there are a wide variety of blogs to add to your favorites!
I’m not sure why this should be an issue for the NSCAA. Who cares if someone is gay?
You’re exactly right. It doesn’t make a difference if someone is gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender (LGBTQ). We’re simply providing resources for LGBTQ athletes and coaches – and all allies – so that everyone who plays soccer is assured of all the support they’ll need. All coaches want to do the right thing for all athletes – but they don’t always know how. This information will help all LGBTQ coaches and athletes feel more comfortable, which means they’ll perform better. It will also help all “straight ally” coaches help them – becoming better, more successful coaches in the process.
A player on my team just came out to me. I hope I said the right things, but I’m not sure. What should I do next?
Congratulations – that’s a great first step. You should feel honored that your player trusts you enough to share such deeply personal information. Now, moving forward, you should realize that this does not affect how you or anyone else sees the player as a part of your team. Your athlete is still the same person and player they were before. You just know a bit more about them – and one of the keys to coaching is understanding each athlete as an individual.
Depending on your relationship with the player, you may ask if it is something they want to talk about further. Don’t ask for specific details or information unless they’re offered. Remain supportive throughout; let the player know how much you appreciate their confidence in you, how happy you are that they’ve been so honest and open, reaffirm that you’re always available for any necessary support.
Be sure not to mention this to anyone else – unless the player says it’s okay. Coming out is a liberating, but scary, process. Once the words are spoken, there’s no taking them back.
One of our players used the word “faggot.” Another said something was “gay.” Should I have responded? If so, how?
The key here is to address it quickly – in the moment – and then move on. Unfortunately, those words have become part of the conversational landscape. You can simply say, “That’s not appropriate language. I don’t want to hear it again.” Treat it the same as you would any other derogatory words. Don’t give it extra-special attention – but don’t let it slide.
I suspect one of my players is a lesbian. Should I say something to her?
Absolutely not. Sexuality is a very personal matter. It’s hard for teenagers – and even for those in their early twenties – to talk about sexuality with adults. Your athlete may come to you with this – but if she doesn’t, do not try to bring it up.
Besides, why do you “suspect” she is a lesbian? People are often stereotyped by the way they act or dress. Gay and lesbian people may look and act a certain way – or they may not. It’s the same with straight people. Labeling someone can limit them and you – and diminish your effectiveness as a coach.
I really want to be a straight ally. What can I do?
That’s great! You should be strong and forceful – but don’t overdo it. You might want to add a sentence or two to your “welcome” letter to parents and players, or mention something at your first team meeting. Say how proud you are to have a diverse team, and that one of the keys to success is acceptance of everyone. Do not single out sexual orientation; race, religion, ethnicity, economic background – all are equally important.
Part of me wants to come out to my team as gay, but another part tells me I’d be crazy. Should I come out? If so, what’s the best way to do it?
This really depends on your personal situation – and only you can judge that. How old are your players? Are they mature enough to process that information? Why are you telling them? Is it relevant? How are the parents?
If you do come out, be sure to do so in a positive way. Don’t sound defensive or worried. Emphasize that just as you expect them to be honest and act with integrity, you’re doing the same.
You should come out on your own timetable, in a way that feels comfortable to you. In this day and age, many people will be accepting – even congratulatory. But a few may not. You can’t worry about them. That’s their problem – not yours.
The mother of a player I’m recruiting have hinted that they’re looking for a team with no homosexual players. How should I handle this?
This is an unfortunate situation – though it may not be explicit. A good comment is, “In my program, I recruit the best players in order to form the best team. We don’t worry about race, religion, sexual orientation or anything else. Everyone is welcome.” It’s hard to argue against a coach who uses skill and ability as the first criteria.
The parents of a player I’m recruiting lives with another woman. How should I handle this?
Use the terms “you and your partner” or “your mother and her partner.” And follow the player’s lead.
I want to create a positive, inclusive environment for all players, but I don’t understand what it means to be transgender.
The first thing to understand is the basic terminology used to discuss gender. A person’s “sex” is determined most often at birth; it’s based on physical sex characteristics. A person’s “gender” refers to their self-perception – how they identify mentally and emotionally. The term “transgender” refers to people whose gender identity or expression does not match their physical sex characteristics, or does not fit within social norms. No one can assign a gender identity to another person. We all define our own gender, and our definitions are as diverse as we all are.
Like all athletes, transgender soccer players benefit from positive environments where people are encouraged to be themselves, and where hurtful language and stereotypes are challenged. Gender is often a fraught topic, particularly in sports. There are clear social norms for what it means to be a “boy,” “girl,” “man,” or "woman.” People not fitting into these “boxes” are often stigmatized. For example, a boy who is called a “sissy” receives the message that he is “less than” a male. This affects every athlete – not just transgender ones. You can support all players by stepping in whenever anyone uses a gender stereotype. Make it clear that every person is worthwhile, and all are welcome.
I understand the need to respect all different types of people, but my religion teaches me that homosexuality is wrong. Now I have a gay player. Help!
Your role is to coach your soccer team, and be a leader in that respect. Your personal religious beliefs should no more enter the soccer field than your political views. You wouldn’t tell your players who to vote for, right?
You have every right to subscribe to whatever religious (and political) views you wish. But your players are entitled to theirs too. Live your life according to your beliefs – but don’t let those beliefs infringe on others (especially those who are young and impressionable, and over whom you hold a certain degree of power and authority). As long as your athletes are good people, that’s all that matters.
This becomes more difficult when you are a coaching at a religious institution. But bear in mind that LGBTQ athletes may have been told they are sinners by many adults. There is no need for you to add to that burden.
As noted above, players who feel comfortable being themselves are more likely to commit more fully to their team – and perform better. That makes the coach look better too!
A player on my team is uncomfortable sharing our locker room with a gay athlete. Any advice?
This is not the gay player’s problem – it’s his teammate’s. You could say, “We’re not comfortable sharing a locker room with someone who is prejudiced against others. If you feel this way, perhaps you should change somewhere else.” Chances are good that the player will quickly rejoin his friends in the team locker room.
Whether you’ve got a quick question about lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning (LGBTQ) issues, or have a complex scenario – we’re here to help.
The NSCAA offers a totally anonymous, confidential service to members. Send us your question or concern. Members of our organization’s LGBT study group will respond soon (or immediately, if the situation requires it), by email.
Phone support is also available.
Athlete Ally is a resource to encourage athletes, coaches, parents, fans and other members of the sports community to respect all individuals involved in sports. Athlete Ally http://www.athleteally.com/
The GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network) Sports Project is an education and advocacy initiative focused on addressing LGBT issues in K-12 school-based athletic and physical education programs. The GLSEN Sports Project http://sports.glsen.org/
The You Can Play Project
You Can Play features gay athletes and straight allies teaming up for respect both on the field and in the locker room. Check out their extensive library that includes videos of support by NHL players.
The Fearless Project is a vividly stunning photography and video collection of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender athletes on high school and college sports teams. The Fearless Project http://www.fearlessproject.org/
It Takes a Team is educator Pat Griffin's LGBTQ Sports Blog. Features commentary on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues in sport from long-time educator and advocate in social justice and sports. It Takes A Team http://ittakesateam.blogspot.de/
The GLBT National Help Center
Provides free and confidential telephone and Internet peer counseling, information and local resources for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and questioning callers throughout the United States.
The Trevor Project
Provides national suicide and crisis counseling for lesbian and gay youth. Hotline is available seven days a week, 24 hours a day.
Phone: 1.866.4.U.TREVOR (1.866.488.7386)
The Matthew Shepard Foundation
Support diversity programs in education and helps youth organizations establish environments where young people can feel safe and be themselves. They also have a team of speakers available to schools and organizations to speak on GLBT issues.
Provides one-on-one telephone peer support to family members with a gay or transgender loved one.
Centerlink: The Community of LGBT Centers
Are you looking for a LGBT community center near you? This site has an extensive worldwide directory with links to the center's web sites.
Athletes OutPost - the blog for the invisible athlete
Blog written by GForce's Athlete Buddy System mentors.
A Gay Athlete's Life
Blog written by a closeted professional baseball player, recently retired.
A couple of Washington Capitals fans who write the ultimate gay hockey blog. As they say on the masthead, "For boys who like boys who like hockey."
Walk the Road
Three high school athletes (runner, soccer, soccer) who want "to change the way teenage gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and questioning athletes are viewed in the sports world." Their masthead says it all: Three kids. Three time zones. One mission.
Out in the Locker Room
A compilation of articles written by LGBTQ sports community activist Jeff Kagan. Jeff is the co-founder of Out of Bounds NYC, the New York City Gay Hockey Association and the New York City Gay Basketball League. He has written articles for Next Magazine, Compete Magazine and Go NYC Magazine.
Federation of Gay Games
A blog that highlights activities around the Gay Games and other sports-related news content. Their tag line: participation, inclusion, personal best.
Equality Coaching Alliance
A virtual meeting place where coaches can discuss LGBTQ coaching issues.
Kye made history by coming out as the first transgender basketball player to play openly on a Division I women’s basketball team. Since then he has been devoted to making a difference in the world by fighting ignorance with education. IMEnough http://www.kyeallums.com/