May 1-7, 2013 is National Sports and Physical Education Week. I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to announce the winners of the Changing the Game with Megan Rapinoe Contest. As an out LGBT athlete, Megan Rapinoe is an amazing role model for all students and athletes. She serves as an example of someone working to Change the Game both on and off the field. Back in February, we worked together to create a contest to give away some signed Megan Rapinoe & Changing the Game swag and a $500 Nike Gift Card. We received an overwhelming response from student athletes all over the country. As we went through the submissions during the judging process, we kept coming back to one particular student.
“I went through the struggle of dealing with my sexuality throughout my time in High School and I think it's important that schools like mine are better educated and more accepting of LGBT students. I've played soccer my whole life and it is a huge part of who I am today. Before, and especially after Megan Rapinoe decided to publicly come out she has been my role model. I will be forever grateful for her decision to come out because it has truly helped me along with my coming out process.”
When we hold a contest, we announce the winner via an email announcement, blog posts, Facebook, Twitter and a press release. We knew there would be attention focused on the winners and wanted to ensure that it would be okay to contact their schools and celebrate their win. The student winning the grand prize was concerned about the attention having a negative impact on their life both inside school and on the soccer field. While they appreciated the gesture, they declined the spotlight. There are many reasons why a young person may not want to disclose their sexual orientation. The National School Climate Survey reports that 63% of LGBT youth do not feel safe at school. It is understandable why a student may second-guess this kind of attention, even when it is in a positive light.
- More than a quarter of LGBT student athletes reported having been harassed or assaulted while playing on a school sports team because of their sexual orientation (27.8%) or gender expression (29.4%).
- More than half of LGBT students who took a P.E. class were bullied or harassed during P.E. because of their sexual orientation (52.8%) or gender expression (50.9%).
- LGBT students commonly avoided athletic spaces at school including locker rooms (39.0%), P.E. classes (32.5%) and school athletic fields and facilities (22.8%) because of feeling unsafe or uncomfortable.
- A vast majority (74.9%) of LGBT students said that they were uncomfortable talking to their P.E. teachers or coaches about LGBT issues.
We would love to announce the grand prizewinner of the Megan Rapinoe for Changing the Game contest… but we can’t. At GLSEN, we value safety and respect for students, which means, allowing students the space to come out at their own pace.
Instead of using this opportunity to feature the grand prize winner, we are going to break the silence around LGBT issues in sports by featuring blog posts from other student athletes involved in the Megan Rapinoe for Changing the Game contest in honor of National Sports and Physical Education Week (May 1-7th). We will be bringing you the stories of several student athletes in their own words.