The IX: Soccer Mondays with Annie M. Peterson for April 5, 2021
A closer look at Athlete Ally's Athletic Equality Index, which measures LGBTQ+ inclusion policies at Div. I schools nationwide — Woso links — Athlete Ally's Anna Baeth
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This morning Athlete Ally released its new Athletic Equality Index. It’s a tool that measures LGBTQ+ inclusion policies in Div. I colleges nationwide.
Given the rise in efforts among some social conservatives to target transgender athletes with legislation, I felt some of the AEI’s findings were worth noting.
But first off, let me echo what Megan Rapinoe said in her Washington Post column last week: These efforts to ban transgender athletes address a problem where none exists.
There simply are no cisgender men trying to compete in women’s collegiate sports to take medals or titles or anything away from women. NCAA policy, in place since 2010, required hormone suppressing therapy for a year before a transgender woman is allowed to compete. Know any cisgender men who are willing to do this? Nope, me neither.
It was much the same fearmongering we saw a few years back with the so-called bathroom bills: No, transgender women are not using bathrooms to attack women or their daughters.
Anna Baeth, director of research for Athlete Ally, told me there’s even evidence that transgender athletes often put off transition until AFTER college, because of the complications involved. More from Anna below.
“In my experience in talking to athletes who identify as trans and competed at the NCAA Division I level, most of them will say something to the effect of, ‘Listen, I’m an athlete, I’m super in tune with my body. I only had four years to compete. I was unwilling to undergo hormone treatment at that point, which would unduly affect my athletic career. So most athletes I talk to say, even if they identified as trans prior to going to their university, they waited to do a full medical transition until after graduating.”
She said schools that don’t adopt inclsuvive policies often say, `Well, we haven’t had any transgender athletes.’ They likely have they just didn’t know it at the time.
Here are some of the highlights of the latest AEI report, which you can find here.
● 92% of Div. I schools don’t have fully inclusive trans athlete policies.
● 70% of Div. I athletic departments don’t provide have resources and support specifically for LGBTQ+ student-athletes.
● 80 percent of Div. I schools don’t have a fan code of conduct to address harassment of student athletes and spectators.
In addition to the AEI report, it was an unusually newsy Monday morning. News also broke that U.S. Soccer, the NWSL and MLS were joining the international pilot program to use substitutes for suspected head injuries. I woke up early to file my story for AP here.
And the NWSLPA announced new leadership this morning.
And one last thing before I get to the links, the Challenge Cup opens Friday! Pretty glad I’ve got live soccer back. I’ll be at the Thorns match! And apparently, so will Lisa Baird.
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Stephanie Yang wrote a great piece for All for XI on the NWSL’s transgender policy.
Meg Linehan wrote a nice column for The Athletic about how everything the NWSL does doesn’t have to be game-changing. Thought provoking.
Annie Costabile from the Chicago Sun Times wrote about Mallory Pugh starting fresh in Chicago.
Julie Poe also wrote about the NWSL’s transgender policy for the Orlando Sentinel.
The Athletic’s Katie Whyatt asks whether its time for the WSL to add new teams.
Neil Davidson of The Canadian Press takes a look at the CWNT and captain Chistine Sinclair’s return for a pair of European friendlies.
Marta, on the Players’ Tribune. This is delightful.
Caitlin Murray wrote about Crystal Dunn and the battle for racial equality in soccer. oh, and Jozy Altidore liked it!
The Orlando Pride’s new jerseys are out of this world. Really. From some guy named Howard Megdal.
Macario’s out of the USWNT’s European friendlies because of an outbreak on Lyon. From me.
Sandra Herrera looks at the Lyon outbreak for CBS Sports.
Dan Lauletta of The Equalizer provides this handy guide to the Challenge Cup.
One more from The Equalizer: Claire Watkins with a nice profile of Andi Sullivan.
Five at The IX: Athlete Ally’s Anna Baeth
Question: Do you think that schools have been slow to adopt these policy trans inclusion policies, or did they just feel like maybe that they weren’t necessary because the NCAA already has one?
Anna: The NCAA in 2010 wrote trans inclusion guidelines. These were actually co-written by Athlete Ally’s founder Hudson Taylor and Pat Griffin. So they wrote these guidelines in 2010. They were published by the NCAA in 2011. The guidelines, I don’t know if you’ve had an opportunity to take a look at them, it’s about it’s like a 38-page booklet of recommendations for athletic departments. So what is somewhat unique about this, though, is that these guidelines have been published, they’ve been out for forever. But in spite of that, the NCAA has never, as far as I know, made a public statement to say every NCAA institution must abide by these guidelines. Ask the NCAA directly, which I have done, they will say yes, in order to compete in an NCAA championship, an institution must abide by these guidelines. But unlike some of the other policies that the NCAA has put forth that say, ‘OK, here are the policies, and in order for your institution to compete, you need to abide by these policies and send us an annual update that you are you are abiding by these policies.’ The trans guidelines, they’ve never been that explicit about. I won’t speculate as to why the NCAA operates in that way when it comes to trans inclusion. But what I will say is we know that more and more young people are coming out as trans than ever before, and we expect that they’re going to be more and more trans athletes competing at the NCAA level over the next two years, let alone the next five, 10 years. So part of why we bring this up and why we focus on trans inclusion is to say, any NCAA institution will say, ‘Of course, we follow the NCAA always guidelines.’ Because they have to say that. But that doesn’t mean that they actually have a policy or plan in place. If a trans athlete is recruited to their institution, if an athlete comes out as trans while they are at the institution or even if an athlete comes out as trans after they leave the institution. Part of the impetus for us with the AEI is to say, ‘OK, we know in theory that you follow these guidelines, but what does that look like in reality on the ground at your institution?’
Question: Do you think that perhaps maybe the trans inclusion policies have not been kind of adopted at that level, because there just haven’t been that many trans gender athletes that have risen to Div. I level of competition?
Anna: I think when it comes to competing as a trans athlete at the NCAA level, it is complicated because the NCAA’s guidelines mandate, particularly for trans women, that they have to undergo hormone therapy and hormone treatment in order to compete.
In my experience in talking to athletes who identify as trans and competed at the NCAA Division I level, most of them will say something to the effect of, ‘Listen, I’m an athlete, I’m super in tune with my body. I only had four years to compete. I was unwilling to undergo hormone treatment at that point, which would unduly affect my athletic career. So most athletes I talk to say, even if they identified as trans prior to going to their university, they waited to do a full medical transition until after graduating.
So then in my mind an athletic department might say, ‘Well we haven’t had any trans athletes.’ And I say, well actually you probably have but they probably just in transition while they were competing for you.
Question: I was shocked to see that 70 percent of athletic departments don’t provide support services for LGBTQ+ student-athletes. Do they simply depend on overall programs for LGBTQ+ students?
Anna: The reason that I most often hear from athletic departments is — they’ll say to me ‘Well, we already have an LGBTQ center on campus. And so we in athletics, we don’t feel like we’re well versed enough to have these conversations.’ Intuitively that makes sort of sense to me. So, yes, that is that is true: You probably do have a great LGBTQ center.
However, what we know from the research, is that while athletes broadly have a very siloed experience at their colleges and universities, they spend a majority of their time in the athletic department with their coaches, with their trainers, with their teammates. And the bottom line is they’re typically not on campus in the same ways that a non-varsity student athlete is. So our argument, and part of why we have this metric in place is to say, ‘OK, well, athletic departments, if you’re creating this siloed experience for your student-athletes, which is fine, we’re not arguing against that, you need to be able to provide the appropriate resources.’ That’s not to say that the athletic department has to create these resources. In fact, we really promote, and you’ll see it in the we have our metric on collaboration’s as well.
We really promote things like, ‘Why don’t you bring in somebody from the LGBTQ center to speak to all of your student-athletes? Why don’t you utilize the resources that are already on your campus and provide them to student-athletes?’
Question: I wanted also to address the lack of fan codes of conduct.
Anna: I think often when it comes to these policies, and this is just broadly speaking, but I think most often the policies are written, they are posted somewhere and they’re not necessarily revisited. And that makes sense, right? I mean, unless there’s a problem, most people aren’t going to aren’t going to fix it. We also know, and study after study shows, you ask any sports fan, they will tell you the most homophobic space is during a competition in the stands. And the fans say it’s more homophobic to sit in the stands than it is to even be in a men’s locker room, which I think really speaks to how seriously we need to take competitions. But why they don’t do it I don’t know, I think part of it is that honestly they probably haven’t really thought about it. But there are a few instances where they’ve taken it really seriously. UVA is a great example of this. I don’t know if you know the history of UVA, but they actually sort of got themselves in a little bit of trouble a few years ago because their university song, fight song, actually had some undertones of homophobia. And they actually since have changed their fight song and put in a really robust policies to say this is unacceptable, this is not where our athletic department stands, and that is not going to happen in any of our venues during any of our sports. They have been really proactive about it.