Athletic communities are often under fire for a lack of inclusivity, whether in terms of race, gender or sexuality. Now varsity athletes at Ithaca College are coming forward with their experiences, and it has become evident that the lack of specialty awareness programming for athletes is an issue. Some lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender–identified athletes find the general climate to be problematic due to the casual use of homophobic or ignorant slang. This demonstrates the need for such training. These athletes have identified a general discomfort in the athletic community surrounding LGBT issues and awareness.
The athletic department has not done any programming for LGBT awareness to date, but Susan Bassett, director of intercollegiate athletics at the college, said she was very open to doing this. However, she said she and Greg Shelley, associate professor of exercise and sport studies, did not believe LGBT-specific interactions fit into the Leadership Academy’s curriculum, but rather that this programming should be done by each team individually. However this issue is addressed, it must happen quickly because student-athletes are not receiving this training on their own through existing campus resources, simply because in order for this to happen individuals have to take the initiative to utilize those resources. The Center for LGBT Education, Outreach and Services is a wonderful campus resource, but it cannot fix this issue on its own. The athletics department needs to address this lack of LGBT programming, because athletes are in special situations on and off the field that warrant special training and tailored workshops. All students deserve to feel safe and welcome in their spaces, and there is no reason for an athlete who works just as hard as everyone else on the team to feel like an outsider.