NCLR combats negative recruiting based on sexual orientation

(San Francisco, CA, March 10, 2009)—Today, the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) announced the publication of “The Positive Approach: Recognizing, Challenging, and Eliminating Negative Recruiting Based on Actual or Perceived Sexual Orientation,” authored by Helen Carroll, NCLR Sports Project Director, and Dr. Pat Griffin, Director of It Takes a Team! Education Campaign for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Issues in Sport, an initiative of the Women’s Sports Foundation. The publication provides a comprehensive analysis of negative recruiting based on actual or perceived sexual orientation, and recommends practices and policies to eliminate it. Negative recruiting refers to the practice of playing on homophobic stereotypes to deter recruits from attending rival athletic programs by alleging or implying that a rival coach or team members are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT). Because sexual orientation is irrelevant to coaching, leadership, or athletic abilities, the actual or perceived sexual orientation of any coach or player should not be part of the recruiting process.

“As a former NCAA Athletic Director and a National Championship basketball coach, I know firsthand the importance of addressing discrimination in college athletics,” said Helen Carroll.“Putting an end to negative recruiting is critical not only to protect LGBTQ players and coaches, but also to attract and retain the best, most qualified coaches. As long as any athlete or coach can be harmed by being tagged with the “lesbian” or “gay” label, the goal of achieving true equality in sports will remain out of reach.”

In the first NCLR Sports Project Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Think Tank convened by NCLR and co-sponsored by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) in October, 2006, top sports leaders from across the country, including NCAA leaders, athletic directors, coaches and athletes, attorneys, conference commissioners, college presidents, researchers, and executives of national coaching organizations, came together to discuss the impact of negative recruiting based on actual or perceived sexual orientation. The strategic discussion at the Think Tank ultimately resulted in this publication: The Positive Approach. It defines the problem, outlines practical steps for reducing and eliminating this harmful practice, and includes a forward-looking model policy to eliminate negative recruiting based on both sexual orientation, and gender identity and expression.

“Equal opportunity in sport is a core principle that should be deeply valued and vigorously pursued,” said Dr. Pat Griffin. “NCLR, the NCAA and The Women’s Sports Foundation have worked to create a ‘level playing field’ where people are judged on the merits for their talent, capacity for hard work, and contributions to sport rather than on personal characteristics—such as sexual orientation.”

In 2001, NCLR made history by becoming the first LGBTQ national organization to tackle the rampant homophobia and transphobia in sports with the launch of the Sports Project. Since the Project’s inception, NCLR has worked to eliminate discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in sports through advocacy, outreach, and litigation. Under the leadership of former NAIA women’s basketball championship coach and athletic director Helen Carroll, we have provided assistance to hundreds of high school, university, and professional athletes, coaches, and sport personnel. Our Sports Project works on all levels of athletic competition, from the NCAA to the NFL, to ensure that LGBTQ athletes can compete and participate openly and equally.

The National Center for Lesbian Rights is a national legal organization committed to advancing the civil and human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and their families through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education. NCLR is lead counsel in In re Marriage Cases. http:// www.nclrights.org/overturn8