Duke, Athlete Ally to Launch Sports & Social Justice Initiative

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, Sept. 3, 2015

CONTACT: Bernadette Brown
(919) 684-6607

DURHAM, NC – The Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity (CSGD) at Duke University will partner with Athlete Ally to launch the Sports & Social Justice Leadership Initiative.

The Sports & Social Justice Leadership Initiative “is specifically for student-athletes, recognizing that they are in an influential position to advocate for social justice and inclusion with respect to sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression (SOGIE),” said Bernadette Brown, director of Duke’s center.

The initiative was developed by CSGD in partnership with Athlete Ally, a non-profit that provides public awareness campaigns, educational programming and tools and resources to foster inclusive sports communities. The initiative is voluntary for participants and will include training for student-athletes that covers a history of sports activism, discusses current activism in sports, provides the latest research on sports and SOGIE, and encourages student-athletes to become social justice leaders.

After the training, there will be a series of CSGD workshops for the student-athletes, who will then host a conference for the athletic community, from physical education teachers to sports administrators at all levels of the educational spectrum. “The conference will present and explore inclusive policies and practices to better the lives and experiences of LGBTQA+ athletes across sports,” Brown said.

Hudson Taylor, founder and executive director of Athlete Ally, said there were several reasons why Duke is its first partner in the nation on this project.

“Duke’s longstanding commitment to social justice, combined with its world-class athletic program, makes the university and its community perfect partners in our important work,” Taylor said. “We are thrilled to be working with Duke on this initiative.”

“Athletes have the power to change the world,” he added. “We strongly believe in educating and activating athletes to champion social justice issues.”

Lauren Miranda, a captain of the Duke Rowing Team, said she is excited that Duke athletes get the opportunity to participate in this type of program. “It’s exciting that we can use our platforms as athletes to create meaningful social change and tackle big issues,” said Miranda. “We’re putting a really incredible message out there that others will hopefully follow: that this is who we are, we’re part of something much greater than ourselves, and sport has the inherent power to shape the world for the better.”

Athlete Ally board member Mark Stephanz added, “As a Duke graduate (Class of 1983), the son of a Duke football player (Class of 1950), the father of a Duke Class of 2015 graduate and 2017 student, I am very proud of my alma mater for sponsoring this groundbreaking initiative focused on the powerful voice of student-athletes in affecting change for the better for LGBT equality on and off the field.”

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