Happy Pride, GOTR family! This pride month, I want to celebrate our LGBTQ participants, coaches, volunteers, board members, and staff. As a physical activity program existing in a time of turmoil for LGBTQ youth in sports, we are so proud to celebrate and include all of our stakeholders as their whole selves. We want to share our gender inclusion statement:
“Girls on the Run helps girls recognize their potential and rise above gender expectations that may limit their health, confidence, and joy. Girls on the Run respects and values the individuality and dignity of all people, and the organization welcomes participants who identify as a girl, nonbinary, and gender nonconforming, regardless of their sex assigned at birth. Participants will be called by the name and pronoun they request. This reflects Girls on the Run’s commitment to being a welcoming place of acceptance and belonging.”
As a queer person, I know how important it was to be a part of teams growing up (and still!). Learning how to set goals and develop physical skills that are seen and valued within a group of peers has always given me a sense of being at home within myself. Kids likely still experience some of the feelings I had when I was young, not always feeling like how my body moved, my voice sounded, or how I took up space jived with the societal expectations of who I should be. I think some of these feelings can be magnified for LGBTQ kids. However, for me, a lot of these feelings melted away during the joy of sports and play.
Girls on the Run coaches are trained to create a non-competitive environment that supports all kids in our program and focuses on finding joy in movement. Our curriculum teaches kids to stand up for themselves and others, how to make and keep friends, and how to celebrate themselves, turning the negative self-talk in our heads into positive self-talk. We know that these skills are so important for ALL kids, and we also know that they can be significant to LGBTQ kids. A recent CDC report found “more than half (52%) of LGBQ+ students had recently experienced poor mental health and, concerningly, that more than 1 in 5 (22%) attempted suicide in the past year.” It is so important that during this time when our LGBTQ kids hear all sorts of negative messages about themselves, we are providing an affirming, inclusive space.
During pride month, I want to give my favorite energy award to the LGBTQ members of the GOTR community and let you know how grateful I am to have you as part of our organization. “You’re amazing! You’re unique! You’re the unicorn of the sea! You’re a narwhal.” click here for the narwhal energy award video.