CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – LGBT SportSafe Inclusion Program has named the North Carolina Department of Athletics a member of its Founders Club, recognizing UNC’s commitment to creating and maintaining a supportive and safe environment for all.
Founders Club member schools have shown commitment to and helped set new standards in LGBTQ inclusion in sports. The designation is available to the first two schools from each conference that reach the required standards. Other athletic departments that are members of the LGBT SportSafe Founders Club are Nebraska, Northwestern, Oregon and Temple. Recreation Services at University of Colorado is also a member, as is the America East Conference.
“We’re proud to be members of the LGBT SportSafe Founders Club and to support the organization’s programing and mission,” said UNC’s Cricket Lane, the Assistant Athletic Director for Student-Athlete Development. “Our Department of Athletics includes more than 1,000 people when you bring in students, coaches and staff. We want to be sure that everyone feels comfortable, supported and welcome.”
In addition to Founders Club recognition, UNC has been awarded a Gold Medallion as an institution that is committed to inclusion and has demonstrated that through programming, policy and public awareness. Medallions are awarded based on reaching specific inclusion goals, with gold being the highest.
The LGBT SportSafe Inclusion Program uses an algorithm, the 3-Peat Model, to help administrators understand how to implement inclusive programming, policies and public awareness initiatives within their respective athletic communities.
Ashley Dai, a member of the Tar Heel women’s tennis team who graduated in May of 2016, was a driving force behind Carolina’s efforts to gain Founders Club and Gold Medallion status. “To be one of the first to implement the program is a very proud moment for all of us who have worked to create a more open and accepting environment in UNC athletics,” Dai said. “I believe that LGBT SportSafe can further bridge the gap of any disconnect or misunderstanding between LGBTQ student-athletes and their peers, coaches, or administrators. More than anything though, I hope that this helps LGBTQ student-athletes realize that they are not alone and that there are amazing allies around them.”
The LGBT SportSafe Inclusion Program was founded by Nevin Caple and Dr. Eric Lueshen earlier this year. In addition to raising awareness, it educates athletic institutions in the implementation of inclusive programming and policies.
“We are thrilled to welcome our first Atlantic Coast Conference partner institution, University of North Carolina,” said Caple. “UNC has shown a commitment to protecting LGBT student-athletes, coaches and administrators, and continues to play a key leadership role in making sport safe for all.”
For more information on LGBT SportSafe, go to lgbtsportsafe.com.