North Athletic’s Department Launches LGBTQ+ Focus Group

Arjun Shatkin

The athletic department announced a new LGBTQ+ Athletic Focus Group initiative, with the goal of benefitting LGBTQ+ student-athletes at North.

The focus group will meet during Tiger block 3-5 times a year. “We wanted to provide a better space for students who identify as LGBTQ+ to be comfortable and to help us be better as an athletic department,” said Jackson.

According to Special Education Teacher Lisa Goldthwaite, the initiative came after the department administered an Athletic Equity Audit that surveyed student athletes on topics surrounding gender, racial, and LGBTQ+ equity. The student responses found disparities in many areas, which led the athletic department to create three focus groups: one on racial equity, another on gender equity, and now one that focuses on LGBTQ+ equity.

Goldthwaite, who is also an adviser for the Gender Sexuality Alliance, said that the goal is to host the first LGBTQ+ focus group meeting in December. Students who are interested can reach out to her or Jackson.

“Our hope is first to hear the stories of students and how their experience may differ from other students or how their sexual identity might have played into the way in which they participated in sports or not participated in sports,” said Goldthwaite. “We want it to be focused on student input, so once we have the student input we would work with the students to develop some action steps.”

Goldthwaite said the meetings will start with her and Jackson running them, but the focus group will be open to making changes to the current system.

“Mr. Jackson and I will be there to help facilitate the committee but if their are some student leaders who want to take on a greater role I think we’d be very open to that,” said Goldthwaite, who added that more faculty, such as coaches or school administrators could join the group “either on a regular basis or an as-needed basis depending on what sorts of action steps we’re working on.”