Locker Room Talk: Combating Homophobia

Helen Carroll & Kris Brackmann (CMC '17) at CMC's Athenaeum
Courtesy of The Student Life and Jo Nordhoff-Beard
Helen Carroll & Kris Brackmann (CMC '17) at CMC's Athenaeum Courtesy of The Student Life and Jo Nordhoff-Beard

By Kris Brackmann CMC '17

On April 26th I invited to campus Helen Carroll, director of the National Center for Lesbian Right's (NCLR) Sports Project, which combats homophobia and transphobia in sports through litigation and policy work since 2001. Prior to joining NCLR, Carroll spent 30 years as an athlete, a national championship head basketball coach at the University of North Carolina-Asheville, and the Athletic Director at Mills College for 12 years.

To accompany research I conducted on the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps student-athlete experience for my senior anthropology thesis, I planned for this discussion on LGBT inclusion at CMS and Pomona-Pitzer to involve athletics in the Gaypril celebrations during the month of April, with the intent of giving back to the community in a meaningful way. Carroll began the day by facilitating a workshop for CMS and PP coaches, where they discussed the coaches' role in creating a team culture of respect and inclusion for LGBT athletes.

"As we work to support students within The Claremont Colleges, I felt that holding a collaborative workshop around inclusion with both CMS and PP Athletic Departments sends a strong message of support to our communities," said CMS Director of Athletics Terrance Tumey. "The workshop focused on some of the more fundamental questions regarding how we serve our communities."

"The timing was really fortuitous because we have some things going on on our campus about inclusion and diversity," added PP Director of Athletics Lesley Irvine. "Coaches are dedicated to the intent action of creating diversity and inclusion."

Carroll and I also spoke at the Athenaeum for a lunch presentation to over 80 people, with attendance from students, staff, faculty, and administrators from across the 5Cs. After relaying her own story and background in athletics, Carroll listed off many professional athletes who have shaped this course of history as well as narrated some of the many cases and projects she has worked on at NCLR and ones to look out for in the news. Following her remarks, Carroll and I took questions from the audience that covered transgender rights, the prevalence of a stagnant gender binary in sports, and concrete action items for students hoping to create a more inclusive culture on their teams.