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Ithaca Named One of 10 Most LGBT-Friendly Athletic Departments

 ITHACA, N.Y. – Ithaca College’s collegiate sports program has been honored by Campus Pride’s Out to Play Project as one of the nation’s 10 most lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT)-friendly college sports programs.

Campus Pride is the nation’s leading educational organization for student leaders and campus groups working to create a safer college environment for LGBT students; its Out to Play Project, in partnership with Compete Magazine, aims to begin the dialogue of LGBT safety and inclusion in college athletics and to provide the necessary research to broaden efforts to combat anti-LGBT conduct, bias and slurs in sports.

“Campus Pride is very proud to be able to recognize Ithaca College, not only for creating an LGBT-friendly atmosphere on its campus, but specifically within athletics,” said Shane Windmeyer, executive director of Campus Pride.

"The commitment and initiative of the athletics, recreational sports and, perhaps most of all, our student- athletes are yet another example of how Ithaca College seeks to foster the success of our students and equip them with the skills to be ready to excel- on the field, in the classroom, and out in the world,” said Lis Maurer, program director for Ithaca College’s Center for LGBT Education, Outreach & Services. “Coaches and students regularly consult with me to assure all programs, policies and practices represent the best of inclusiveness, respect and support. I'm very pleased to support their work."

Ithaca was honored along with Bates College, Bowdoin College, Bucknell University, Columbia University, Indiana University, Kennesaw State University, New York University, Stanford University and Whitman College. The list was compiled from nominations received nationwide, with each reviewed for its LGBT-inclusion efforts, practices and policy implementation. Ithaca’s nominations came from faculty, staff, coaches, students and student-athletes.

“We received a significant number of nominations for Ithaca College from students as well as from staff and faculty related to the LGBT experience at Ithaca,” Windmeyer explained. “We researched the information from the nominations and factored in the Campus Climate Index rating of each campus. In addition, we had a panel of experts in LGBT-related issues in athletics who were consulted.”

"We are so pleased to be recognized as a leader in higher education related to a variety of diversity efforts on our campus,” said Ken Kutler, Ithaca’s director of intercollegiate athletics and recreational sports. “In particular, by offering programs and forming campus LGBT-focused organizations, our student-athletes, coaches and other LGBT-friendly advocates have taken an active approach to educate the Ithaca College community and encourage dialogue between all student-athletes, coaches and teams."

The college’s efforts toward supporting the LGBT community, as cited by Campus Pride, include educational programs, speakers, and trainings that have been implemented and sponsored by the athletic department, the support of many LGBT-friendly advocates and the creation of Ithaca College’s Association for Gay & Straight Student-Athletes (AGSSA).

Ithaca College hosted the 2009 Sport, Sexuality and Culture conference, which featured the work of nearly 125 scholars from North America, Asia, Europe and South America, in part through the efforts of many LGBT-friendly advocates, including Ellen Staurowsky [former graduate program chair and professor of Sport Management and Media and now a professor in the Department of Sport Management at Drexel University] and Annemarie Farrell [Sport Management and Media chair and coach of Ithaca College’s men’s rugby club team].

In partnership with the Ithaca College Center for LGBT Education, Outreach & Services, Farrell also took LGBT and ally students from the center to work as interns at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Two Bomber student-athletes, Morgan Ewing and Ruthie Goff, both members of the crew program, formed the AGSSA – a student campus organization dedicated “to changing prevailing attitudes and perceptions in regards to homosexuality, athletes and athletics; to combat homophobia and heterosexism in sports and athletics.”

Campus Pride specifically cited the AGSSA’s efforts: “Although still rare in higher education, such LGBT-focused student athlete organizations provide positive proof that Ithaca College is on the right track.”

“I am so proud to be part of a school whose emphasis on equality isn't limited to academics,” said Anna Lawrence, a senior track & field athlete who serves as AGSSA president. “While many LGBT identified athletes still struggle to be accepted by the coaches and teammates, our shining example can only help lead other schools and athletic programs to become more welcoming to their students. I am happy to be involved in this process of making our campus stand out as a place where everyone is fully encouraged to be themselves.”

Ithaca College sponsors 26 varsity sports at the NCAA Division III level. Ithaca’s Office of Recreational Sports oversees fitness, recreation, intramurals, sport clubs and the Outdoor Recreation Equipment Center. Over 25 percent of the college’s undergraduates participate in intramurals and there are more than 35 sport clubs.



1 Comment

I am very excited to see this story! As a counselor, it is wonderful to recommend my alma mater as a leader in diversity. Many of my students have Ithaca College on their list of colleges as a result of Ithaca's commitment to LGBT acceptance and inclusion.