Sports are the center of our lives here in Pittsburgh, PA. We live each season for our home teams to get out on the field and show us what they have got. This summer, as we head into the middle of another great season of baseball, our beloved Pirates are tied with division rivals, the St. Louis Cardinals, for first place in the league! When it comes to sports, there is no other place like Pittsburgh. Known as the “City of the Champions”, Pittsburgh is the birthplace for the the championship winning Pirates, Steelers, and Penguins, Pittsburgh Panthers and Passion; teams that have collected numerous titles in championships throughout their history. My personal favorite is heading to PNC park overlooking downtown Pittsburgh and participating in all of the rituals of America’s pastime, followed by Pittsburgh’s pastime: FIREWORKS!
At GLSEN, we know how important sports are in the lives of students.. According to GLSEN’S 2011 briefing The Experiences of LGBT Students in School Athletics, sports positively impact students’ physical health and self-esteem, and it also directly affects their academic performance. Unfortunately, not all the youth feel comfortable enough in gym class or participating in team sports. According to the same briefing, more than half of the 73% LGBT students that took a physical education class in 2010 were bullied or harassed because of their sexual orientation.
We want to make schools a safe space for every student, creating a place where everyone is respected, regardless of their sexual orientation and gender identity/expression. Knowing the importance of sports for youth’s lives, GLSEN launched in March 2011 Changing the Game: The GLSEN Sports Project. Led by educator Path Griffin, the project addresses LGBT issues in K-12 schools athletic and physical education programs. Changing the Game is supported by former and current coaches, award-winning journalists, Olympic and National Champion Athletes and now by our Pirates of Pittsburgh!
This summer the Pittsburgh Pirates are looking to change the game here in Southwestern Pennsylvania. They are teaming up with GLSEN Pittsburgh to fight against homophobia in the sports teams of this area, especially our schools! And, of course, this important partnership and the support of one of the oldest baseball club in the US could not be celebrated in other way than with a breathtaking game! Join with us the the work of making sports a place where every child can feel safe and successful. Join us on Tuesday August 6th to honor the Pittsburgh Pirates for commitment to LGBT students and cheer them on to another win against the Florida Marlins!
Vanessa Davis is a leader with GLSEN's Pittsburgh chapter, working to ensure that all students are valued and respected.