Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Interview with Pat Griffin

Two of my favorite bloggers contributed to the current "Pride Month" issue of the Beacon Broadside. Helen Wheelock of Women's Hoops Blog interviewed Dr. Pat Griffin, of It Takes A Team about homophobia in sport. Griffin has recently been involved in some very interesting work on the role of religion in college sports, which can intersect with and contribute to discrimination against gay and lesbian student-athletes. I'm glad Wheelock asked her about it (among other things):
....What challenges do gay athletes face when sports and religion intersect? How can coaches, even coaches at schools with policies that forbid homosexual conduct, support their gay and lesbian athletes?

....Coaches have a responsibility to create and maintain a religion-neutral environment on their teams, but some coaches invite or pressure athletes to attend chapel or Bible studies, to pray together or listen to Biblical quotes as part of their coaching. I think this is wrong, not only because it places lesbian and gay athletes at risk, but it also alienates anyone on the team who does not share the coach's particular faith. College and high school sports are not church leagues.

I support every athlete's and coach's right to their personal religious or spiritual beliefs as well as their right to individually express that belief, but I think there is a little too much tolerance in athletics for mixing evangelical Christianity with athletics. I would hope that even in religious schools where homosexuality is specifically condemned that coaches and athletes would treat gay and lesbian teammates with respect.

On other topics with Title IX relevance, Griffin praised the NCAA for incorporating a more inclusive message into its athlete training workshops, and pointed out the particular vulnerability of female coaches to direct discrimination and tactics like negative recruiting.