By Braedan Shea
Athletics are typically broken down into two categories — women’s sports and men’s sports. The women’s team consists of “women,” and the men’s team consists of “men.” But according to Springfield College student-athletes Lily Gould and Grace Dzindolet, this is far from accurate. They believe there is a large group of people who are being unrepresented:
The entire LGBTQ+ community.
On Wednesday, Oct. 20, in front of an overcrowded room in the basement of the Physical Education Complex on campus, the two tackled the subject with full force in their SEAT at the Table presentation. The very subject that is so near and dear to their hearts.
Dzindolet is a senior guard on the women’s basketball team, Gould is a junior thrower on the women’s track and field team. One thing they have in common: they are both part of the LGBTQ+ community. Dzindolet identifies as a lesbian woman, whereas Gould identifies as a non-binary lesbian.
Their goal on Wednesday was to open people’s eyes about LGBTQ+ culture in athletics in their presentation: Queer Culture in Athletics. Their message clearly resonated with their audience.
“I felt like I learned a lot,” explained first-year student Lindsey Laughlan. “I’ve felt like I have become more mindful of the community as a whole.”
The pair gave an engaging presentation. Through the use of striking visuals and statistics, they informed the audience effectively, while also leaving attendees with much to think about.
Once they got through their first segment, they quickly pivoted into a video that showed athletes coming out. It was the perfect way to introduce the audience to the topic, giving insight about those who have gone through the process. They then followed with a little bit more information about the LGBTQ+ community, breaking down and defining terms, in hopes of building an understanding.
Next, in an incredibly moving segment on the mental health challenges faced by queer youth, they shared some of the hardships and struggles that those who are part of the community often endure. It included some chilling statistics. Dzindolet and Gould cited a national survey that found 42 percent of LGBTQ+ youth seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year, including more than half of transgender and nonbinary youth.
Furthermore, they explained, 12 percent of white youth attempted suicide, compared to 31 percent of Native/Indigenous youth, 21 percent of Black youth, 21 percent of multiracial youth, 18 percent of Latinx youth and 12 percent of Asian/Pacific Islander youth.
The pair highlighted the struggles even further when they discussed how transgender people are treated in public. As a visual, they wrote down every single anti-transgender bill that has been proposed across the country, dating back to last May. There were at least 25 laws, filling up a total of four slides. Every time a slide passed, the collective audience’s feeling of pain grew deeper and deeper.
After laying the foundation of what being queer is like, Dzindolet and Gould translated that information into what it is like being a queer athlete. One of the biggest things that LGBTQ+ athletes encounter, they explained, are microaggressions.
The presentation wrapped up with how the audience can help battle those microaggressions, and how they can help fight alongside the community as a whole. When they finished, the audience erupted in overwhelming support for the bravery they witnessed.
“It was incredible,” stated first year student Samantha Andresen. “I learned so much. It opened my eyes to what [the LGBTQ+ community] has to go through, and how that translates to the sports world.”
Photo Courtesy Springfield College Women’s Basketball Instagram