Study by Athlete Ally shows Pac-12 scores highest in LGBTQ inclusion

Athlete Ally released their new Athlete Equality Index, which scores each of the Power 5 conferences and schools based upon lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer inclusion, and the Pac-12 had the highest score (79.3). A perfect score would be 100.

The Pac-12 was followed by the ACC (68.8), Big 10 (65.2), Big 12 (56.3), and the SEC (56.0). Conferences were sent their scores three and a half weeks ago with the opportunity to raise them.

Sixty-three of the 65 schools had LGBTQ resources that student-athletes could access and nondiscrimination policies that included sexual orientation and/or gender identity. Only nine schools have explicitly committed to following the NCAA provided guidance on transgender athletes. Forty-one schools lacked a student group or initiative that created space for LGBTQ athletes to discuss their experiences.

"We hope the Athletic Equality Index will act as the catalyst needed for institutions to continue the pursuit of proactive LGBTQ-inclusive policies and practices," Athlete Ally executive director Hudson Taylor said. "We believe that everyone should have equal access, opportunity and experience in sport, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. Athlete Ally hopes the Athletic Equality Index will bring us one step closer to that reality."

Individual institutions were judged on the existence of LGBTQ inclusive nondiscrimination policies, LGBTQ specific resources accessible to student-athletes, fan code of conduct, and a commitment to following the NCAA's recommended guidelines for the inclusion of transgender athletes among other categories. Bonus points were also available if the conference provided LGBTQ inclusive trainings, participated in LGBTQ advocacy, and/or has an LGBTQ inclusive non-discrimination policy at the conference level. Only the ACC received bonus points, specifically for the conference's response to North Carolina's House Bill 2.

Conferences could be penalized for the existence of anti-LGBTQ policies at member institutions. Only the Big 12, however, received such a penalty, citing an anti-LGBTQ policy at Baylor. BYU, which has been a target of Athlete Ally in the past, is was not included in the report since the institution is not a member of one of the Power 5 conferences.

"I'm proud to be a student-athlete at Alabama, who has continued to work to build athletic spaces that protect and respect LGBTQ people," Alabama rower Claire Estep said. "These types of reports will only help ensure that colleges and universities across the country have the tools to best support LGBTQ players, coaches and fans. Roll Tide."

Athlete Ally is a 501c3 organization that provides public awareness campaigns, educational programming, and tools and resources to foster inclusive sports communities. The programs include ambassadors from over 80 colleges and over 100 professional athletes.

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