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GLSEN Launches Sports Inclusion Project

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Gay rights advocates have launched a new education campaign designed to fight homophobia in school sports.

The Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network has officially started its ‘Changing the Game’ campaign. Project leader Pat Griffin tells OutQ News that their goal is to make sports within Grades K through 12 safe and welcoming to students of all sexual identities.

GLSEN says that nearly 9 out of 10 LGBT youth have admitted to experiencing harassment in school because of their sexual orientation, with about two-thirds saying it was because of their gender expression. The group also says that about 36 percent of LGBT students consider the locker room to be an unsafe and uncomfortable environment on campus.

To help change that, Griffin says schools will be able to sign up to be part of the project’s “Team Respect Challenge.” Teams that sign up to participate promise to speak out against bullies and treat everyone with respect. Teams even get a challenge kit that comes with wristbands and certificates.

Griffin says she thinks there is a great opportunity to take advantage of the leadership skills that students and educators in athletic settings have.

GRIFFIN: “I think that the overwhelmingly positive reaction we have is an indication of the need for this kind of a project to focus on sport. Whether it’s deserved or not, I think people see sport as a place where respect doesn’t always carry the day.”

Griffin says GLSEN’s website will be updated every month with new programs available for school sports teams. And the group expects celebrity endorsements from athletes like Billie Jean King, Martina Navratilova, and rugby star Ben Cohen.

-Rose Bochner

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Written by OutQ News staff

March 28, 2011 at 6:45 PM

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