At Girls on the Run, we believe in creating teams where our participants are included and feel a sense of belonging.
As we look back on Pride month 2023, we want to take a moment to reflect on and celebrate the strides we’ve made this year to include LGBTQIA+ youth, coaches, and staff, especially our transgender and nonbinary participants, and stakeholders. As a national organization, Girls on the Run created training for staff on gender inclusion, rewrote our Gender Inclusion Policy, and is working on a curriculum with more gender-inclusive language. This work is essential to ensure LGBTQIA+ youth feel safe and supported when participating in Girls on the Run.
The Trevor Project found that LGBTQ youth who feel high social support report attempting suicide at less than half the rate of those who feel low or moderate social support. A recent Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report underscores the importance of this, stating that last year, one out of five LGBT+ teens attempted suicide. By creating teams with caring mentors that help kids truly belong, Girls on the Run can literally save lives.
It is clear that our organization's work for LGBTQIA+ inclusion is taking place at a time when the kids in our community need support; The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) just announced a state of emergency for LGBTQ+ people.
At Girls on the Run, we teach participants to be "stand byers" when they see bullying taking place, and we know that this is a crucial time for our organization to be a stand byer for LGBTQIA+ kids. We know that only 20% of LGBTQ+ youth participate in sports programs with many citing fear or intimidation as a barrier for joining, as stated by the HRC.
We want to loudly and proudly say that we are committed to creating a space of belonging for LGBTQIA+ kids, especially transgender girls and nonbinary kids. While things are hard in the LGBTQIA+ community right now, we know how crucial it is to express queer joy and celebrate! Check out how GOTR staff members across the country are celebrating Pride:
"I love Pride celebrations and seeing them throughout June always fills me with so much joy. This year I am extremely excited to participate in my local Pride Festival and march in the parade with some of our GOTR coaches, participants, and families! I'm a big reader so I'll also be reading as many books with queer representation as I can. The most genuine way people can celebrate Pride Month is by doing real activism work. A post on social media might signify to others your acceptance, but in the grand scheme of things it doesn't do much.
If you can, donate money to queer causes or volunteer for queer organizations. Contact your representatives, especially if they are openly conservative when it comes to queer issues, like access to gender-affirming healthcare. Lastly, bring your kid to your local Pride Festival this month so they can see the wide range of beautiful queer people and their joy."
"Though June is Pride Month (HAPPY PRIDE!), Atlanta's big pride celebration takes place in October around National Coming Out Day. Last year at ATL Pride, my partner and I got to ride on the float for LGBTQ folks in sports. We are really proud of the leagues that we play in. I am an Ultimate Frisbee player, and our national governing body invites players to compete in the division that feels most comfortable and safe based on their gender identity. My partner plays in the local women's and nonbinary soccer league. Being part of these sports spaces that explicitly, loudly state that queer people are included has allowed us to come to our teams as our best selves and experience the sense of belonging that sport uniquely gives us."
"Like Atlanta, Orlando hosts their big pride celebration in October. For us here in Central Florida, June is a time of remembrance and resistance. Monday, June 12 marked the anniversary of the Pulse nightclub tragedy. Throughout the month, the community comes together in a number of ways to celebrate inclusion while honoring the 49 lives that were taken. With events like the CommUNITY Rainbow Run, we demonstrate our resilience and take a stand against hate.
This year, with the recent attacks on LGBTQIA+ rights in Florida, activism is especially important. The community I have found in this STC group empowers me to embody our GOTR values, reminding me that there is strength in our connectedness and that I have a responsibility to stand up for myself and others. As discriminatory policies continue to threaten the lives and livelihoods of trans folks in particular, I'm showing up and speaking out where I can."
"This year our 75% queer family is honoring Pride by marching with my father-in-law, Mayor Jack Heath, in the Salisbury, Maryland Pride Parade and joining in the festivities in Downtown Salisbury on June 24. We haven't attended a Pride celebration since before the pandemic. There's been a lot more transitioning and truth-telling in our family since then, so this is especially important to proudly participate with multiple generations.
Although not exactly Pride month related, our Girls on the Run Central Maryland council was invited and tabled at last month's Howard County Public School's 2023 Rainbow Conference, where we met so many families interested in how we are inclusive to their trans, non-binary and gender nonconforming children who want to be a part of the program! It was so refreshing to feel seen and show allyship as an organization serving the community and THE Community!"