At Girls on the Run - DC, we are dedicated to fostering inclusive teams that prioritize the inclusion and sense of belonging for all our participants. As Pride month comes to a close, we wanted to acknowledge and celebrate the significant progress our organization has made this year in embracing LGBTQIA+ youth, coaches, staff, and particularly transgender and nonbinary individuals.
We have introduced a gender inclusion training, updated our gender inclusion policy, and are actively working on developing a curriculum that utilizes more gender-inclusive language.
The importance of this work cannot be overstated, especially considering the current circumstances. According to a recent CDC report, one out of five LGBT+ teens attempted suicide last year. We firmly believe that the efforts we are undertaking can make a difference during this crisis. A Trevor Project survey discovered LGBTQ youth who experience strong social support report significantly lower suicide attempt rates compared to those who feel low or moderate social support. By cultivating teams with compassionate mentors who foster a true sense of belonging, Girls on the Run has the potential to genuinely save lives.
It's clear that our organization's commitment to LGBTQIA+ inclusion aligns with the pressing needs of the children in our community, particularly given the recent declaration of a state of emergency for LGBTQ individuals by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC). At Girls on the Run, we teach our participants to be "stand byers" when they witness bullying, and we recognize that now is a critical time for our organization to stand by LGBTQ kids. A recent report from the HRC revealed that only 20% of LGBTQ youth participate in sports programs, often citing fear or intimidation as barriers to their involvement. During this Pride Month, we proudly and loudly affirm our dedication to creating a space of belonging for LGBTQ kids, with a special emphasis on transgender girls and nonbinary individuals.
While we acknowledge the challenges faced by the LGBTQIA+ community, we also recognize the immense importance of expressing queer joy and celebrating.
Here's how some GOTR staff members from our sister councils commemorated Pride Month:
"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." - Savannah
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. - Evelina
"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. - Elizabeth
"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!"- Carrie