The University of New England is being recognized for its efforts to promote inclusion for LGBTQ athletes.
UNE Athletics was awarded the Division III Diversity Spotlight Initiative for the month of April, and was featured in a story on NEWS CENTER Maine during June, which is widely recognized as LGBTQ Pride Month.
In conjunction with NCAA Division III Week, UNE sponsored a comprehensive on-campus education session that covered the important topic of inclusion. As part of the program, the university hosted student-athlete development professional Kayleigh McCauley, founder of ‘Out in Athletics’, which specializes in LGBTQ athletics policy creation and revision.
McCauley, a four-year member of the Nor’easters’ field hockey program and two-year member of the softball team, met with students, administrators, coaches and professional staff.
The University also joined with professional, college and high school athletes around the globe in creating a video “You Can Play” video. The initiative brings athletes and fans together to let LGBTQ players know they are welcome on their teams.
NEWS CENTER Maine interviewed one of the students featured in the video, Rose Karis (Environmental Studies, ’19), about her experience coming out to her teammates.
“I didn’t come out until last year actually,” Karis told NEWS CENTER Maine. “There were struggles with wanting to tell people, but not knowing if or how I should.”
Karis took a leap and told her teammates. Their responses were not what she expected or feared.
“Nothing changed at all,” Karis explained. “They didn’t make a big deal about it.”
UNE wants all athletes to know that they will be treated with the same respect.
“We want them to not only feel included in an inclusive environment, but we want them to feel celebrated,” UNE Athletics Director Heather Davis said. “That really makes our community that much more vibrant and engaging.”