October 25, 2023 – Today, Athlete Ally announced the launch of an expanded version of Champions of Inclusion, the first free, comprehensive online curricula on LGBTQI+ respect and inclusion within athletics. Designed to educate student athletes, coaches, and administrators at the collegiate and K-12 level across the U.S, Champions of Inclusion aims to eliminate geographic and financial barriers to LGBTQI+ education.
Through Campus Chapter, Student-Athlete, Athletic Staff and K-12 Coach curricula, Champions of Inclusion uses interactive quizzes and video modules to educate participants about sexual orientation and gender, obstacles faced by LGBTQI+ athletes, and how to proactively foster a welcoming athletic community through Campus Chapters and inclusive team and departmental policies and practices.
“Sport has the power to change lives, and yet only 32% of LGBTQ+ youth participate in athletics,” said Hudson Taylor, Founder and Executive Director of Athlete Ally. ”All too often in sports, athletes, coaches and administrators don’t have access to the training that will most help to make their athletic community inclusive and welcoming to all. Champions of Inclusion works to meet that gap by providing free, online education to student athletes, coaches and athletic staff across the country. This is an essential building block to creating and sustaining inclusive teams, and laying the foundation for lifelong learning as advocates and allies.”
84% of LGBTQ high school students feel uncomfortable talking to their coach about their lives and experiences, and only 5.6% of NCAA D1 athletic departments fully protect and support their LGBTQI+ athletes, staff and fans. Awareness-raising through education is a key step to fostering inclusion. This points to a dire need for coaches and athletic leaders to access comprehensive training on LGBTQI+ issues, without cost, geography or time constraints serving as barriers.
“As a brand with a longstanding history of serving athletes, we’ve seen firsthand the power of sport in changing lives, but we also know the playing field isn’t equal,” said Jen Schmit, Sr. Director of Gatorade Community Marketing & Impact. “That’s why, through our Gatorade Equity in Sports initiative, we have partnered with Athlete Ally and are investing in their new Champions of Inclusion curriculum to help educate coaches and foster welcoming communities, all in service of advancing access to sport for the next generation.”
“The Champions of Inclusion Student-Athlete Curriculum clearly outlines how to take accountability as allies, and how to continue to educate ourselves and the people around us,” said student athlete Madison Roukey. “I also gained a deeper understanding of the LGBTQI+ community’s experiences, of transgender and nonbinary identities, and of specific ways I can take action to create a more inclusive space at my school, such as meeting with my Athletics department.”
“I am passionate about college athletics creating inclusive spaces for all people,” said student athlete Lauryn Thompson. “With the knowledge offered in Champions of Inclusion, the opportunity for people in sports to feel safe, understood and free to play as themselves is elevated and visible to all!”
“This curriculum will not only make you a better coach or staff member, it will make you a better human,” said Dr. Jen Fry of JenFryTalks.
To access the curriculum or learn more, please visit athleteally.org/coi
Champions of Inclusion is fueled with generous support from Gatorade