It’s an uncommon conversation, how college sports is bringing together conservative Christians and the LGBTQ community.
This week BYU hosted a branch of the NCAA, known as Common Ground, to discuss how student athletes in both the religious and LGBTQ communities can work together.
Most people know that the NCAA is dedicated to the well-being and lifelong success of college athletes; to help all athletes succeed, Common Ground provides college student athletes within faith-based organizations and LGBTQ affiliations an opportunity to discuss how they can work together.
Pat Griffin, Professor Emerita in Social Justice Education, said, “I decided that I wanted to be a part of trying to bring people together who have seemingly irreconcilable differences, and see if there is some way that, through creating relationships, we can work together and find a different way to all live in this world in harmony and in mutual respect.”
The common ground leadership team noticed a divide between the LGBTQ and religious communities. This divide extended to intercollegiate athletics, specifically between members of the NCAA in all three divisions. Because of these differences, Common Ground started discussions of respect and inclusion in 2014.
Helen Carroll, consultant for the National Center for Lesbian Right’s Sports Project, said, “What we would do is represent coaches, student athletes, who have lost scholarships, been fired, can’t get other jobs, been thrown out of school, simply for the reason of their sexual orientation.”
BYU senior associate athletic director, Liz Darger, joined Common Ground seeking a way to bring these conversations to BYU athletes.
“BYU has been involved in this important dialogue for the past two years,” said Darger, “And I have been really privileged to be able to be a part of that and represent BYU in the past year and a half serving on the leadership team.”
In the next year, Common Ground will reach out to more universities to have these uncommon, but what they believe are crucial, conversations.