The first session of a new bi-weekly discussion group for LGBTQ varsity student-athletes took place on Oct.7 with Women’s Golf Team member Lauren Gros (SFS ’18) hosting the discussion that was sponsored by Center in conjunction with the Athletic Department. The group was created so that student-athletes could share their experiences as LGBTQ athletes at Georgetown, and Gros iterated the group’s purpose as a forum for LGBTQ Student Athletes.
“The overall goal of it is really just to create a safe place for student-athletes to discuss their experiences and what it means to be gay and a student-athlete at Georgetown, what challenges we might face, what experiences we’ve had, and just to talk about that with people who understand experiences and the schedules we have,” Gros said.
Although the group is the first of its kind for Georgetown student-athletes, the LGBTQ Resource Center has been interested in creating one for some time. “For a while now we’ve been trying to see if anyone would be interested in doing something around LGBT in athletics because that’s one of those areas students often struggle.” said Sivagami Subbaraman, director of the LGBTQ Resource Center. “So far we’ve never been able to do it because we didn’t know anyone who was an out athlete, until now.”
Gros agreed to lead the discussion group after her own experiences coming out as a student-athlete last year. “I was okay coming out to my friends on my floor, but I was most nervous about coming out to my team,” she said. “I think it’s just that there’s a bit of added pressure, if I come out to friends here and they don’t accept me or they have problems with it I can just find new friends, but you can’t find a new team.”
Gros went to the LGBTQ Resource Center, hoping to find a fellow LGBTQ student-athlete to talk to about the issue with, but was surprised to find they couldn’t connect her with one. “I thought it would be nice if all athletes could come together and talk about it, which inspired me to start it,”she said
This student-athlete discussion group is not the first LGBTQ peer-led discussion group on campus. Subbaraman explained that the Center has sponsored peer-led discussion groups in response to student needs and requests. In addition to the student-athlete discussion group, there are now five other discussion groups on campus: EmbrACE, for students who are asexual or ace-spectrum, Queer Women’s Collective, Umbrella, for students who are trans, questioning, or are affected by trans issues, GettingBi for bisexuals, pansexuals, and all other “polysexual” identities, and Queer Men of Color.
Dr. Mike Lorenzen, Assistant Athletic Director, emphasized the Athletic Department’s support for Gros’ discussion group. “Our athletics department is deeply committed to providing an inclusive environment for all of our student athletes. We work diligently to ensure an open atmosphere and a safe spaces for athletes of all gender identities,” he said. “When student-athletes are willing to step forward and engage each other in dialogue about identity and other issues, then we are proud and happy to support their efforts.”
“These are led by peers, they are not led by staff,” said Subbaraman. “This is not about trainings and workshops and that’s not the purpose of this. This is not about education in the sense of I come and do a training for the athletes or the coaches.” She instead describes the groups as “a peer-to-peer safe space for students to come together to talk about their experiences, to talk about their struggles, to talk about what they’re going through in the teams, classrooms, in their residence halls, with their parents, their siblings, their friends, whatever that might be.”