Last week, Athlete Ally joined a host of other dedicated activists at Creating Change 2015, the largest yearly gather of leaders and organizers of the LGBT equality movement. The conference attracted nearly 4,000 participants from across the country this year including members of the business community, politicians, organizers, policy-makers, and students.
Represented by newly-appointed Policy and Campaigns Director, Ashland Johnson, and Community Partnerships Coordinator, Akill Patterson, Athlete Ally hosted two innovative panels on the intersection of sports, civil rights, and communities of color. The first panel, done in partnership with NBJC, MLB, and the NFL, focused on the ways athletes, leagues, and fans can work together to combat LGBT discrimination in sport and in their communities. The panel featured Wendy Lewis, Ashland Johnson, Wade Davis, Nevin Caple, and Kye Allums. Athlete Ally’s second panel featured queer athletes of color and emphasized the need to have intentional leadership from people of color in the LGBT rights dialogue. Both panels highlighted the significance of allyship in social justice work and the ways the sports community can promote equality outside of sport. As such, they added a unique dimension to the Creating Change’s greater equality conversation.
In accordance with the organization’s new focus on legislative policy, Athlete Ally helped lead strategy sessions on state legislative organizing. Ashland joined panelists from national and local policy organizations such as the LGBTQ Task Force, the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Justice, and New Voices Pittsburgh, and lead a conversation on innovative strategies for protecting LGBT equality. As a panelist, she discussed the implications of an onslaught of religious discrimination bills and the ways we can leverage allyship from the sports community.
Creating Change brought together an incredibly diverse community and many varying perspectives from all across the country, setting the stage for collaboration and strategic innovation in the LGBT equality movement. As Athlete Ally continues state equality campaigns and working with students and athletes, we hope to interact closely with state and local LGBT groups, leading charge where it is needed.