North’s athletic department recently distributed an equity survey to gather more information about LGBTQ+ students’ sporting experiences and treatment.
The survey came in response to an equity audit that was distributed three years ago. According to the department’s findings, LGBTQ+ athletes, female identifying athletes, and athletes of color reported that they were treated differently than straight, white male athletes. After collecting feedback from students, the department published the new survey as their next step of action.
“If we can support students in some type of way we want to do it,” said athletic director Mike Jackson. “Inclusion is a big part of the athletic department, whether it is from a racial standpoint, sexual identity, religion, it does not matter. Our goal is to have an inclusive athletic department.”
While it will take time and effort, many staff members believe that this goal of equality can be achieved.
“Ideally, we would like all LGBTQ+ students to feel comfortable participating in athletics at Newton North, regardless of gender and sexuality, “ said assistant department head of special education, Lisa Goldthwaite.
Jackson added that the responses to this survey could help faculty members identify actions that will make a difference.
“Our goal is to make sure that we accomplish something,” said Jackson. “It could be a locker room, a conversation, and as we learn what’s needed, then we can adjust to figure out what we need to do.”
However, students must complete the survey to help the athletic department identify the steps needed to improve the athletic experience at North.
“So far, we’ve had a small number of respondents,” said Goldthwaite. “We encourage students who are willing to share their stories and ideas with us to fill out the survey anonymously or to contact me or Mr. Jackson. We would still love to have a focus group, too—LGBTQ+ students who are interested may also contact us directly.”