Athlete Ally Launches Historic “Athletic Equality Index”

For Immediate Release

Contact: Taylor Carr, OR 315-945-7480

Athlete Ally Publishes Historic “Athletic Equality Index” to Measure LGBTQ Inclusive Policies and Practices across the NCAA’s Power 5 Conferences.

New York (September 12, 2017) – Today, Athlete Ally published the Athletic Equality Index – a first-of-its-kind report providing a comprehensive overview of how all 65 member institutions of the NCAA’s Power 5 conferences are supporting, or failing to support, their LGBT players, fans, coaches, officials and administrators.

The Athletic Equality Index brings our movement into a new era of advocacy, transparency and accountability. Institutions will no longer be able to cite a lack of data and reporting as a rationale for inaction, and will offer an industry-wide benchmark for the progress needed to achieve the full dignity and inclusion of the LGBTQ community in sport.

“We hope the Athletic Equality Index will act as the catalyst needed for institutions to continue the pursuit of proactive LGBTQ-inclusive policies and practices,” said Hudson Taylor, executive director of Athlete Ally. “We believe that everyone should have equal access, opportunity and experience in sport, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. Athlete Ally hopes the Athletic Equality Index will bring us one step closer to that reality.”

This report comes at a critical moment in the fight for LGBTQ inclusion and equality in sport. Studies show that athletics is following the trajectory of youth demographics, and that athletes are becoming increasingly more diverse in areas including, but not limited to, gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation. Knowing that, athletic departments must proactively commit to educating allies and protecting LGBTQ people — carving out a space in sports culture for everyone to thrive without fear of discrimination.

“The Athletic Equality Index developed by Athlete Ally offers a rich comparison of the actual steps and works of collegiate institutions striving to accomplish equality for all LGBTQ student-athletes,” said Helen Carroll, sports project founder, National Center for Lesbian Rights. “This work brings to the forefront the visibility of positive, or in some cases negative, atmospheres within colleges and measures these efforts on a scale that offers opportunity for the institution to examine where they stand in comparison to institutions within their conference and among the NCAA.”

Research shows that LGBTQ athletes drop out of sports at a rate dramatically higher than their heterosexual peers, or avoid sports altogether. The impact is devastating. It’s in part why we don’t have more visible LGBTQ athletes playing professional sports; why acclaimed and successful out coaches often are “let go”; why transgender athletes have to fight just to play the sport they love; and why the media jumps at the opportunity to speculate about an athletic figure’s sexual orientation. Sport remains a challenging place to navigate as an LGBTQ person at any stage of life, and at any level of sport. The Athletic Equality Index aims to provide the necessary data and resources to achieve a world where all athletes are respected and protected in sport.

The inaugural report indicates a level of openness on behalf of college athletic departments to proactively address LGBTQ efforts. An overwhelming amount of schools have LGBTQ-inclusive resources for student-athletes; multiple are participating in pro-LGBTQ campaigns; and more than half have comprehensive nondiscrimination policies that apply to their athletic departments. Schools are investing in inclusive education and staff members are coming forward as vocal allies or as LGBTQ themselves. There are a variety of great organizations and individuals working in this space, and through efforts like the Athletic Equality Index, we hope bring the number of college institutions working toward greater equality and inclusion to 100 percent.

To see more and to download the report, click here.