Game Plan for Coaches

Making Your Team Safe For Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Athletes

Inside Game: Work On Your Own

  • Learn more about prejudice and discrimination based on such differences as  race, sexual orientation, gender identity/expression and religion
  • Put a Safe Sport Space sticker on the locker room door and your office door
  • Assume that LGBT people are on your athletic teams and among your coaching and support staff, even if they have not identified themselves
  • Monitor your beliefs or assumptions about LGBT people, and commit yourself to evaluating others on the basis of their character, not on sexual orientation or gender identity/expression
  • Know what resources are available in your school and community for LGBT students and staff
  • In addition to the GLSEN Sports Project, identify experts outside your school that would be available to provide resources and guidance to the school, team and/or to you
  • Learn about LGBT issues in sport and how they affect individuals and teams

One on One: Work with Others

  • Be a visible and active role model of respect and fairness for your team
  • At the beginning of your sport season, make clear your expectations of respect for diversity among all members of athletic teams, including LGBT coaches and athletes
  • Communicate to athletes and coaches that anti-LGBT actions or language will not be tolerated
  • Use language that is inclusive of LGBT athletes  and coaches
  • Treat all athletes and coaches fairly and respectfully regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity/expression
  • Do not make anti-LGBT slurs, jokes or other comments
  • Schedule an educational program on LGBT issues in athletics for your team
  • If LGBT athletes or coaches identify themselves to you, respect their right to confidentiality and privacy
  • Be prepared to provide resources to parents or guardians of LGBT athletes, but always be careful not to out a student to their parent, guardian or family
  • Expect the same standards of behavior from all athletes regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity/expression
  • Let LGBT athletes or colleagues know that you are an ally and that you support them
  • Help promote enthusiastic but respectful sports fan behavior at athletic events
  • Answer questions about LGBT people in sport from the media in ways that do not support or accept prejudice
  • Do not tolerate college coaches’ use of “negative recruiting” based on perceived or actual sexual orientation when talking with high school athletes, coaches or parents of athletes(Negative recruiting = Making negative comments about the sexual orientation of coaches or athletes at another college as a way to discourage high school students from considering that school)

Team Work: Policy and Best Practices

  • Propose a non-discrimination policy for your athletic department that includes sexual orientation and gender identity/expression
  • Identify a process for responding to athletes who engage in name-calling, bullying or harassment
  • Recommend that coaches associations or athletic associations to which you belong sponsor programs on LGBT issues in athletics
  • Maintain a religion-neutral team environment, particularly with regard to the participation of LGBT athletes or coaches
  • Develop a fair response to and expectations for teammates’ dating relationships regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression

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