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Trevor Project and Puma Team Up to Provide Free LGBTQ+ Inclusivity Training in Sports

Trevor Project and Puma Team Up to Provide Free LGBTQ+ Inclusivity Training in Sports

Teens playing basketball
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The self-paced online training is designed for coaches, athletic directors, and other adults who work in youth sports.

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The Trevor Project — the leading suicide prevention organization for LGBTQ+ young people — and sports brand Puma have launched a free digital education program, #REFORMTheLockerRoom, a specialized online training course for coaches, athletic directors, and others who work in youth sports.

The purpose of #REFORMTheLockerRoom is to educate these leaders on best practices to cultivate safe, inclusive, and welcoming sports environments for LGBTQ+ young people both on and off the field. The Trevor Project and Puma initially announced plans to create this training in 2021 as part of their multi-year strategic partnership, focused on supporting the mental health of young LGBTQ+ athletes in sports environments via education, visibility, and awareness.

The curriculum was informed by extensive research and community involvement via roundtable seminars with public educators, sports leaders, and LGBTQ+ peer organizations with the goal of creating a tangible, actionable program to provide youth-serving adults with LGBTQ+ cultural competency training. It will provide information on such topics as how to use respectful language, promote gender-inclusive spaces, and support equitable policies in sports. The program is available on an ongoing basis and is self-paced, so users can move through it at their own speed.

Officials with the Trevor Project and Puma point out that the project is more timely than ever, with hundreds of anti-LGBTQ+ bills introduced across the nation this year alone, many of which seek to ban transgender and nonbinary young people from participating in school sports. According to the Trevor Project’s polling, 86 percent of trans and nonbinary youth say recent debates about state laws restricting the rights of trans people have negatively affected their mental health.

Research has also indicated that transgender and nonbinary young people who were more out about their gender identity were less involved in sports than those who were not out. Further, transgender and nonbinary young people reported significantly lower rates of sports participation than their cisgender LGBQ peers. Young people who identified as transgender (17 percent) were nearly half as likely to report sports participation compared to cisgender LGBQ (27 percent) young people.

A 2021 research brief on youth sports participation found that 68 percent of LGBTQ+ young people reported that they had never participated in sports, with many citing concerns about discrimination and harassment from peers and coaches, fears of how others would react to their LGBTQ+ identity, and policies preventing them from playing on the team that matches their gender identity. However, the Trevor Project’s 2023 U.S. National Survey on the Mental Health of LGBTQ Young People shows that LGBTQ+ youth who had access to affirming homes and schools reported lower rates of attempting suicide in the past year, emphasizing the role that all adults can play in creating safe spaces for these young people.

“Peer communities can be a lifeline for LGBTQ young people, and historically, sports have not been a welcoming or accepting space for LGBTQ young people to participate openly as their authentic selves,” Nova Bright, head of internal training at the Trevor Project, said in a press release. “While the sports community is making strides in the right direction and influential athletes are opening up about their LGBTQ identities, there is still more work to be done to ensure that LGBTQ young people can feel safe to participate in sports without fear of bullying or discrimination. Thanks to Puma’s partnership, we’re hopeful that this training will reach coaches and athletic directors across the country and equip them with the tools necessary to foster greater understanding and acceptance.”

“As a leading sports brand, we strive to create and promote a more inclusive environment for the LGBTQ youth that want to play sports,” added Michelle Marshall, director of diversity, equity, and inclusion at Puma. “We are excited to launch the training course, in partnership with The Trevor Project, that will become a fundamental educational tool for all youth-facing adults in sports.”

Go here to learn more about #REFORMTheLockerRoom.

If you are having thoughts of suicide or are concerned that someone you know may be, resources are available to help. The 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988 is for people of all ages and identities.

The Trevor Project Lifeline, for LGBTQ+ youth (ages 24 and younger), can be reached at (866) 488-7386. Users can also access chat services at TheTrevorProject.org/Help or text START to 678678.

Trans Lifeline, designed for transgender or gender-nonconforming people, can be reached at (877) 565-8860. The lifeline also provides resources to help with other crises, such as domestic violence situations.

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Trudy Ring

Trudy Ring is The Advocate’s senior politics editor and copy chief. She has been a reporter and editor for daily newspapers and LGBTQ+ weeklies/monthlies, trade magazines, and reference books. She is a political junkie who thinks even the wonkiest details are fascinating, and she always loves to see political candidates who are groundbreaking in some way. She enjoys writing about other topics as well, including religion (she’s interested in what people believe and why), literature, theater, and film. Trudy is a proud “old movie weirdo” and loves the Hollywood films of the 1930s and ’40s above all others. Other interests include classic rock music (Bruce Springsteen rules!) and history. Oh, and she was a Jeopardy! contestant back in 1998 and won two games. Not up there with Amy Schneider, but Trudy still takes pride in this achievement.
Trudy Ring is The Advocate’s senior politics editor and copy chief. She has been a reporter and editor for daily newspapers and LGBTQ+ weeklies/monthlies, trade magazines, and reference books. She is a political junkie who thinks even the wonkiest details are fascinating, and she always loves to see political candidates who are groundbreaking in some way. She enjoys writing about other topics as well, including religion (she’s interested in what people believe and why), literature, theater, and film. Trudy is a proud “old movie weirdo” and loves the Hollywood films of the 1930s and ’40s above all others. Other interests include classic rock music (Bruce Springsteen rules!) and history. Oh, and she was a Jeopardy! contestant back in 1998 and won two games. Not up there with Amy Schneider, but Trudy still takes pride in this achievement.