In a month known for celebrating diversity and Pride, the LGBTQ community has reason to feel threatened, said Anne Lieberman, director of policy and programs for Athlete Ally, a group that advocates for equality in sports, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.
“This has been the worst legislative session in history for LGBTQ+ Americans,” Lieberman said. “We’re looking at over 300 bills, targeting LGBTQIA+ plus people, and a third of those have been targeting trans youth.”
During Yahoo’s "Pride Evolution," a one-hour discussion on the celebration of Pride, Lieberman spoke about how the legislative proposals are more of the same anti-trans rhetoric that comes up again and again.
“When we look at these bills, this is really just the conversation we had in 2015, 2016, about bathrooms all over again, but in a different form,” they said. “And that is the sports field.”
Lieberman called the legislation “absolutely heartbreaking,” noting that nine states have passed bills to ban youth from playing sports with their friends.
Former WWE star Gabbi Tuft: Let all kids play
Gabbi Tuft, the former WWE wrestling star, implored people to remember that all kids should have the right to play.
“It's so important to remember that children are children, and that sports are around so that they can integrate socially," Tuft said. "It just really tears me apart to think that at such a young age at the elementary school level, the junior high level that we are teaching segregation, which, I mean, let's call it what it is, it is segregation we are teaching other children — that transgender children are different than them, when in fact, they need to integrate, they need to play normally, they need to feel accepted.”
Figure skater Adam Rippon reflects on embracing true identity
Adam Rippon, a former Olympic figure skater who won a bronze medal in 2018, making him the United States’ first openly gay athlete to win a medal at a Winter Olympics, says the last few years have been transformative for LGBTQ athletes — in a good way.
Before his time competing in South Korea, he never thought he’d see so many people embracing their true identity.
“Since my own Olympic experience, I've seen more athletes within my own sport, come out and share their stories. And it's been really inspiring,” he said.
As for the upcoming Games in Tokyo, Rippon is looking forward to watching trans athlete Laurel Hubbard, a New Zealand weightlifter, potentially make history as the first openly transgender athlete to compete in the Olympic Games.
“I think that to see this representation is going to mean a lot to a lot of kids," Rippon said. "And I think it's, it's really important to see because I think when we see anybody succeed within the LGBTQ+ community, it inspires all of us to really embrace who we are.”
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