Last week Northeastern University Athletics Director Peter Roby encouraged college-bound LGBT athletes to check out Northeastern.
“If you are a young, LGBT athlete looking for a place to play, we invite you to consider Northeastern,” Roby said in a promotional video for the You Can Play Project as part of its open casting call for the month of May.
Roby’s comment, which spread across Husky Twitter handles, signals that Northeastern is on its way to being one of the top LGBT-friendly athletics programs.
You Can Play applauded the university’s willingness to talk about LGBT issues in sports. According to the website, nearly all of Northeastern’s sports teams participated in a campus discussion about LGBT athletes at a March presentation by GForce Sports. In October, the university hosted a citywide forum, which showcased a dedication “to take the lead in promoting respect for all students, and for breaking down barriers to participation for athletes,” according to the website. “The Huskies’ enthusiasm and support for equality in sports, and for the You Can Play Project, has set a standard for colleges and universities nationwide.”
In the last month, LGBT athletes have gained national attention, most prominently in the coverage of SUNY Oneonta senior lacrosse captain Andrew McIntosh, who came out to his team, and said he hasn’t received a single abusive or belittling comment. He was welcomed and commended for his bravery, he told the New York Times.
If you’ve never given LGBT athletes a second thought, or didn’t realize there was an issue, that’s exactly the issue – many students either sack their athletic dreams for fear of discrimination or abuse, or, if they do play, hide (like McIntosh did for three years).
But this event, as many gay athletics magazines are suggesting, may indicate the traditionally hostile environment of competitive sports is changing.
In its May issue, Compete gay athletics magazine ranked the top ten LGBT-friendly collegiate athletic programs. Though Northeastern was not one of these programs, perhaps we’re on our way there.
With a notably high number of both students and faculty who are LGBT, Northeastern is a remarkably LGBT-friendly institution. We have gender-neutral housing and a host of programs for LGBT students, including a resource room in Curry Student Center, a blog, “NEUnited,” and an LGBT center. Perhaps most importantly, student attitude here is very accepting. And now Roby is taking the next step in boosting our athletics program.
So kudos to Roby and kudos to Northeastern. Let’s keep the momentum going and continue to recruit and support the best athletes possible, regardless of sexual orientation.