As part of our celebration of Pride Month, the Rams will be spotlighting four LA non-profits/small businesses supporting the LGBTQ+ community, aiming to raise awareness of those organizations' efforts.
The series continues with Sports Equality Foundation, which empowers LGBTQ+ athletes, coaches and sports leaders to foster meaningful progress across sport and culture.
For the Sports Equality Foundation (SEF), meaningful change across sport and culture starts with the people of the LGTQIA+ community – people who are "courageous individuals, change agents, true champions," according to co-founder Kirk Walker.
That mission has guided the organization since 2016 as it has amassed several networks comprised of thousands of those types of people.
SEF aids those change agents through programs – led by human-centric resources and experts that help them build and connect, create internships, jobs and skillsets, come out/empower role models, and cultivate change in culture.
"These four pillars of the work give to our tag line: For Your LOVE of Sports," Walker said.
The organization's work over the last six years has helped it grow those groups of networks to nearly 2,000 coaches, athletes Olympians and sports professionals that identify as LGBTQ+ at all levels of play – high school, collegiate, professional or international.
Among its recent accomplishments, SEF last year launched a TikTok reaching more than 17,000 followers and generating more than 250,000 likes, created and implemented a K-12 curriculum for educators, coaches and administrators that also included visibility campaigns and educational-based engagements.
For Walker and SEF, being better allies for the LGBTQ+ community is rooted in inclusivity.
"Any and all opportunities to acknowledge the presence of and the inclusion of LGBTQ+ individuals in sports and society is important," Walker said. "LGBTQ+ individuals are a part of an invisible minority group that has often felt unwelcome or alone in society and in sports. When Allies show visible support or use inclusive language, it has lasting and immeasurable impact for individuals to feel safe. It also becomes important for allies to create the safe space to allow LGBTQ+ individuals to stand up and elevate the conversations around inclusions.
"We, LGBTQ+ individuals, exist and are in sports at every level, but many straight individuals may never know who they work with or compete with that might be LGBTQ+."
While there are numerous ways to celebrate Pride Month, with any and all of them being valuable, Walker said the month is important for initiating dialogue "around a visible minority group." The efforts should also go beyond the month alone.
"The important things beyond June are what are we doing in our sports spaces to be inclusive 365 days and not just 30 days," he said.