Featured events

7-9 September 2012
Brussels Games

Brussels Gay Sports will offer a weekend of fun and fairplay in the capital of Europe, with volleyball, swimming, badminton, and tennis, as well as fitness and hiking.

Learn more HERE.
26-28 October 2012
Bern, Switzerland

The success of the first edition of the QueergamesBern proved the need for an LGBT multisport event in Switzerland. This year will be even bigger, with badminton, bowling, running, walking, floorball.

Learn more HERE.
17-20 January 2013
Sin City Shootout
Las Vegas
The 7th Sin City Shootout will feature softball, ice hockey, tennis, wrestling, basketball, dodgeball, bodybuilding and basketball.

Learn more HERE.

13-16 June 2013
IGLFA Euro Cup
After this year's edition in Budapest at the EuroGames, the IGLFA Euro Cup heads to Dublin for 2013, hosted by the Dublin Devils and the Dublin Phoenix Tigers.

Learn more HERE.

Friday, December 9, 2011

GLSEN and San Francisco school district workshops on student athletes

In his latest column, Roger Brigham looks at progress for adult LGBT athletes, and the challenges for younger athletes:

[But] with reports of student suicides and bullying seemingly more prevalent than the coming out of elite athletes, is it a safer and more inviting sports world for LGBT youth athletes?

That topic was a central theme for workshops held in San Francisco last week for public school coaches and physical education teachers, and will be explored this weekend in a panel discussion at a Gay Straight Alliance Network summit in the city.

Professional development workshops were presented on December 1 and 3 by the Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network and San Francisco Unified School District's Student Support Services focused on utilizing "student-athletes' leadership potential as role models for respect and inclusion in schools; countering gender and sexual orientation stereotypes in athletics and physical education; addressing anti-gay name calling and bullying among athletes, coaches and spectators; and inclusion of transgender students on sports teams and in physical education classes."

As wrestling coach at Mission High School, I attended the first workshop. SFUSD's Ilsa Bertolini and Kevin Gogin presented an alarming battery of statistics from surveys of middle school and high school students, showing the greater risks LGBT students are exposed to than their straight classmates. Statistics such as transgender students being three or four times more likely to be threatened or injured with weapons, or LGB students being four times more likely to attempt suicide.

Pat Griffin, director of GLSEN's Changing the Game program, then led discussions with the coaches and teachers about proactive steps they can take to help LGBT students feel safe in gym classes and on sports teams, and how to address situations as they arise. For four hours we exchanged anecdotes about how bullying incidents were handled, how teaching moments are identified and capitalized upon, and how things such as signage and setting positive examples can help encourage respectful behavior and greater self-acceptance.

Throughout the day, as we discussed the issues faced by adolescent and pre-adolescent athletes, I kept thinking back more decades than I care to admit to my days as a blossoming gay teen athlete. I was blissfully unaware at the time of my sexuality, but like so many others I was keenly aware that I was "different," and everything around me signaled that I should not speak up about ways in which I might be different.

But the one place where I always felt at one with those around me was on the soccer field or on the wrestling mat. It wasn't so much a sense of family as a sense of tribe I had there. Ultimately, it was realizing that I not only could survive and thrive in athletic combat but that I could find friends and a sense of belonging that over the course of the years gave me the courage to come out.

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