This year, CU Boulder’s Recreation Services has partnered with LGBT SportsSafe, a program that works to create an LGBT-inclusive environment in high school, college and professional sports departments. CU’s is the first recreational sports department in the country to join the inclusion program. Prior to CU’s joining, only intercollegiate athletic departments were members.
Nicole LaRocque, Recreation Service’s Associate Director of Programs, said CU decided to partner with SportsSafe because they were drawn to its vision of inclusion.
“One of my favorite things about LBGT SportSafe is the focus of continued growth and education,” she said. “It’s not simply a matter of signing up and paying a membership fee, it’s about doing something, striving to improve in the area of support and education in sports and athletics for the LGBT community.”
Recreation Services controls the Rec center and all its programs, including sports teams, intramural sports and outdoor programs.
LaRocque said she has not noticed a problem with homophobia during her time as director, but “that does not negate the importance of taking action, supporting our athletes, coaches, students and members and doing our part to educate ourselves and others.”
SportsSafe’s Inclusion Program uses a model that teaches administrators how to implement inclusive programming, policies and public awareness initiatives within their athletic programs, and awards athletic departments either a bronze, silver, or gold medallion based on the level of inclusion their programs have. CU was awarded a silver medallion, and LaRocque said Recreation Services plans to do the work required to obtain the gold medallion in the future, which includes providing formal LGBT sport-specific training.
“We’ve discovered from our campus climate surveys that the LGBT student population wasn’t feeling as comfortable in the rec center as in other departments or facilities on campus, so the rec center has been doing an incredible job of outreaching to our community to show that they are super welcoming, and I think it’s helping a lot,” said Scarlet Bowen, director of CU’s Gender and Sexuality Center. “Historically sports and athletics has not been a very welcoming space [for the LGBT community], and it’s a shame, because that’s a really important part of health and well-being, and it’ll be great for our students to feel safer and more accepted so they can experience the fun of sports.”
Contact CU Independent News Writer Carina Julig at Carina.Julig@colorado.edu.