University Senate

Committee addresses homophobia within SU Athletics

Homophobia is “an everyday experience” for Syracuse University student-athletes, according to findings from SU’s Committee on LGBT Concerns.

At Wednesday’s University Senate meeting, the committee presented its annual report, which addressed homophobia in athletics, along with updates to Health Services, health coverage and gender-neutral housing.

“One of the issues that we looked at very deeply this semester was the experience of our LGBT athletes, and I think what we found was pretty shocking,” said Beth Ferri, the committee member who presented the report.

Ferri added that SU has received positive marks from the Campus Climate Index, a national non-profit survey that assesses the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender campus climate. Looking into homophobia in athletics was a new issue for the committee, Ferri said.

At the end of the spring 2012 semester, the committee said it was made aware of issues student-athletes were having on and off campus with homophobia. The committee reported having difficulty in getting students to come forward to speak openly on the topic.

According to the committee’s report, the committee examined the 2012 LGBTQ College Athlete Report, which reports on national LGBT issues in college athletics. The committee reported that the national findings were mirrored in events at SU, such as the fact that student-athletes who identify as LGBT are twice as likely to experience harassment than their heterosexual teammates.

Ferri presented the report and brought up concerns that student-athletes expressed, from having to share hotel beds with teammates to experiencing coaches walk into locker rooms before student-athletes were fully dressed.

“The No. 1 issue that students brought up were their experiences in locker rooms as being really a dangerous place and a very hostile place and very uncomfortable place,” Ferri said.

The committee presented the following recommendations to improve the atmosphere for student-athletes, which present Senate members unanimously approved.

The full recommendations included:

• Remodel all locker rooms and shower facilities to provide adequate privacy for showering and dressing for all athletes of all sports.

• Ensure that until locker rooms and shower facilities are remodeled, no coaches — male or female — are allowed into locker rooms until athletes are fully dressed.

• Ensure all athletes staying in hotels are provided with their own beds.

• In consultation with the LGBT Resource Center and outside consultants, establish on-going and mandatory anti-harassment training for all coaches, staff and athletic personnel.

• In consultation with the LGBT Resource Center and outside consultants, develop explicit anti-harassment and anti-homophobia policies for athletes, coaches and referees. There should be set consequences for violations to this policy and procedures to ensure the policy is implemented consistently.

• Consult NCAA and LGBT Resource Center in developing a proactive policy for transgender athletes.

• Eliminate all gender-normative expectations and requirements for appearance for student-athletes.

• In consultation with the LGBT Subcommittee, conduct a survey of current and former student-athletes to explore climate issues around LGBT issues.

• Offer exit interviews with a neutral party or exit survey for any student-athlete that quits a team.

• Ensure NCAA officials or referees are aware of anti-harassment and anti-homophobia policy, and ensure any violation to this policy is included in any referee evaluation.

There were a number of other updates the committee presented covering health services, gender-neutral housing and the registrar.

Regarding health coverage, SU Insurance now covers domestic partner benefits and transition-related services for transgender faculty and staff. Health Services at SU also recently formed a committee charged with making “Health Services more inclusive to the LGBTQ community,” according to the report.

The committee also reviewed university forms and information related to name and gender markers on university forms.

Senators asked for the athletic department report during the first meeting of the 2013-14 academic year in response to the LGBT Concerns Committee’s report. Senators also recommended that a member of the committee be appointed liaison to the Athletics Policy Committee.

  • Bostonway

    Remodel locker rooms? Separate showers? Another moronic liberal cause that costs the majority big $’s for a small minority that barks the loudest.

  • Bostonway

    Why is sexual orientation even an issue in sports? I don’t share, display, or flaunt my heterosexuality, why do homosexuals feel the need to do so? This should be a non-issue…of course until the crazy lib’s on campus make it one!

  • Read the article, and in particular see that “student-athletes who identify as LGBT are twice as likely to experience harassment than their heterosexual teammates.” Nobody is harassing themselves, and “flaunting” sexuality is presumably not remotely related to what’s going on. Instead, others are apparently harassing others in the locker room they personally happen to feel uncomfortable about or think they can simply get away with poking at with unprofessional fun. It’s not a “lib” issue, Bostonway.

  • Bostonway

    I suspect part of this effort is; ‘we (homosexuals) are going display and act the way we want…who cares what others think!’ Sorry, you are still a clear minority whose behavior is abnormal (statistically speaking). Yes, I do have a very good friend and fraternity brother from SU who is gay. He’s also a sports guy. You wouldn’t know he was gay based on dress and mannerisms (yes, there are a few legit stereotypical behaviors!). Now, I’m in no way saying harassing or degrading others is okay…I am not and it is not. However, you want a simple partial solution… quit the ‘gayness’ in public and in locker rooms. Then this becomes much more of a non-issue.

  • Jose A.

    No, Bostonway, there’s no “we are going to” do anything. It’s not a cult. It’s individual people feeling harassed and made uncomfortable. I believe that’s mentioned in the article; it’s not part of a larger conspiracy. It’s difficult to begin to know what to address first – your assertion of something called “gayness,” that people who just happen to be different should go out of their way to act different than how they would normally, or that statistically different in some way is bad or unacceptable. Harassment largely doesn’t happen because of a “gayness” (which is not a verb for a reason). It happens because someone thinks it’s acceptable and called for, which it sounds like you’re probably a part of, whether you realize that or not. I’d ask that, in consideration to the entire community, and people like that one supposedly gay friend you have (though I’m sure you have more and don’t know it because a couple people are afraid to tell you), you consider the possibility that the fact that the homosexual population being a minority is in no way relevant to how you should speak or behave.

  • Bostonway

    Again, I’m NOT saying it’s right to harass or put someone down because they are different. BUT the reality is… when you ‘act and look different’ than the majority (who are heterosexual) you run the risk of being mocked, and unfortunately by some blockheads really harassed. You can bark all you want that this shouldn’t happen (and you are right), but you’ve got to be smart about image and mannerisms in public. Again, your underlying message is…’We are gay, we are going to act and look the way we want, screw the rest of you, but you better be nice!’ Good and correct in theory, but not good in reality. Ever been to a gay-day parade? My gay friend is totally embarrassed…and he should be.

  • Bostonway

    Forgive me! I’m REALLY stupid and don’t know WHAT I’m saying

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