Written by LGBTQ & Allies Advocacy Group Chair Dan Woog
The email said that the Kansas Senate passed a bill banning transgender athletes in female school sports. A link included quotes from a legislator who believes in “old-fashioned chivalry”: “Have we – men given away our manpower to the snowflakes? Are we going to allow someone to carry around our manhood in their fanny pack or in their purse? Are there no longer any alpha males who will stand and defend our young ladies, our wives, our daughters, our granddaughters, our neighbors’ wives, daughters and granddaughters?”
Ugh, I thought. What a tiresome, anachronistic argument. Don’t transgender people face enough adversity, without having to fight for the right to play sports too?
But I was not the first to reply to the sender. Haley Carter – chair of United Soccer Coaches’ Women’s Advocacy Group – beat me to it. “It’s even worse in Texas right now,” she wrote.
I chair the United Soccer Coaches LGBTQ & Allies Advocacy Group. I was not surprised at Haley’s reaction. Over the past few years working together on the organization’s Advocacy Council, we’ve come to understand that issues that seem to affect one group actually impact many more.
Coincidentally, a couple of hours later I saw news that Borussia Monchengladbach’s U-23 men’s coach was ordered to train the women’s team as “punishment” for unsporting behavior toward a referee.
Ugh, I though once again. Here’s another tiresome, anachronistic example of the disrespect women face every day, even at the highest levels of our sport. I sent the link off to Haley.
When advocacy groups were first formalized several years ago, we thought of ourselves as silos. I was involved with LGBTQ issues. The Black, Latino, Native American and women’s groups had their own concerns. College, youth and high school coaches were separate entities too.
But I am not just openly gay. I’m also a high school coach. I coach players from different backgrounds. I interact with college coaches. And – as we added other advocacy groups, like Disabilities Allies and Faith-Based Coaches – I realized that their issues were mine too. Whether it’s a player with a learning or hearing difference, or one who fasts during Ramadan, my world (and my coaching style) has been enriched by the Advocacy Council.
Our groups are no longer siloed. Our goal now is to be a farm growing a variety of crops. We need rich nutrients from a variety of sources. We depend on each other to reap what we sow.
During the Black Lives Matter protests last summer, our Advocacy Council worked together to support the Black Coaches Advocacy Group. As we heard concerns from Latino coaches, we advocated together for more Spanish resources from United Soccer Coaches. For Women’s History Month, many of us suggested coaches from our own advocacy memberships for that group to honor.
I have been honored to help present diversity and inclusion topics in United Soccer Coaches’ high school and blended education courses. I’ve been joined by chairs of other advocacy groups. The sessions are lively, informative and honest. We show diploma candidates that they are many things beyond “a soccer coach.” They are “who you are” (ethnic background, gender, religion, etc.), and they are “who you coach” (males, females, players from diverse backgrounds and economic statuses, LGBTQ, those with learning or physical differences, and much more).
The coaches in those diploma courses get it. They understand that although coaching is complex and hard, at its heart is one simple truth: Treat every player with respect, dignity, concern and care.
That’s what we’re learning to do on the Advocacy Council. And it’s why those emails that may seem to be about one specific issue – transgender athletes, say, or the disrespect of women – are really about us all.