June 2022 is an important month of gratitude, celebration, and recommitment. As a member of the LGBTQ community, June is one of my favorite months of the calendar year. I feel gratitude for those that trailblazed before us, making our paths a little easier. I celebrate our beautiful community, filled with diversity and promise. I recommit to advocating for our community, knowing that so many still live in fear and abandonment because of how they were designed.
Over the course of a year, whether it is discrete microaggressions or explicit macroaggressions, our community shoulders unnecessary burdens. Pride month allows us the time and space to celebrate who we are, reminds us to be proud of our authentic selves, and encourages us to recommit to advocating for our rights.
LGBTQ+ rights show up in the soccer and youth development spaces in so many different ways. Whether it is equipping a coach to feel empowered to handle conversations and situations with players, approving organizational policies that ensure LGBTQ+ rights, or creating a culture that is inclusive and welcoming, we can be intentional about how we build our spaces. While we have made progress, we still have a lot of work to do.
June 2022 is particularly special as it is the 50th anniversary of Title IX. While it wasn’t originally designed for women’s sports, Title IX provided the lever for women to access the opportunity to play. Having been born several years after Title IX was instituted, I am deeply grateful for the legislation. I know there is a chance I wouldn’t have been able to play soccer in high school or college without it, and I can’t imagine my life without the game that I love so dearly.
Women’s rights also show up in the soccer and youth development spaces in so many different ways. As a player, coach, and trainer, I have been in spaces where I have demonstrated female athletes can be better than male athletes, explained that girls and women can play while on their period, navigated inappropriate power dynamics between coaches and female players, and used the sport to combat injustices such as menstrual sheds, acid throwing, and attacks on reproductive rights. Again, while we have made progress, we still have a lot of work to do.
This June was the first time I took my 18-month old child to a pride parade. And on June 23rd, I will celebrate Title IX with her by playing sports in our driveway – one of our favorite activities. Having a child really changes your perspective on life and humanity. My deepest fears breed my greatest hope, which is a world where my baby can walk through life without fear, shame, or exclusion, regardless of who she is.
As a call to action for the LGBTQ+ community and our allies, and for women and our allies, please consider taking a moment to reflect on how you can change your behaviors and environment to improve access and equity for women and the LGBTQ+ community.