Improving social equality for the LGBTQ+ community in the sporting industry

The fight for social equality intersects with advancements in the world of sports. That was the news at a town hall forum on LGBTQ+ activism. According to world-renowned sociologist Dr. Harry Edwards, hate crimes against the LGBTQ+ community out pace crimes other groups, including African-Americans and Jews. For this reason, there’s a concerted push to bring the conversation of inclusion and the LGBTQ+ community to the forefront.

“They have, for the most part, been denied full affirmation of and respect for the total dignity of their humanity,” said Dr. Edwards.

Wednesday at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, a town hall-style gathering coordinated by the San Francisco 49ers, and San Jose State University. The focus – understanding the impact the LGBTQ+ community has on the world of sports, and the larger society.

“LGBTQ people have been here since the beginning. We are nothing new. We have always been here,” said transgender professional boxer Patricio Manuel. He shared the story of growing up always knowing he wanted to be both a man, and a boxer.

Experts say the LGBTQ+ community has always been under attack. The April, brutal beating of transgender woman Muhlaysia Booker in Dallas shocked the nation. A minor fender-bender sparked an attack, which left Booker on the ground of an apartment complex parking lot, bleeding, as a crowd cheered. May 20 she was found shot to death on a Dallas street. Police are investigating the acts as hate crimes. Experts say transgender woman are targeted at a higher rate than other minorities, despite changing cultural values and norms.

“The rabidly opposed find this shift in cultural boundaries extremely disturbing, and therefore, ah, a threat to their vision of a proper social order. And they strike out, often times violently,” said Dr. Edwards. Added Ezra Baeli-Wang, an LGBTQ+ activist, “Homophobia, heterosexism, transphobia.. all of these forces that we are seeking to combat are natural extensions of sexism and misogyny.”

Attendees and participants at the forum say greater education and inclusion, in the world of sports and beyond, will help heal social rifts. “A proud athlete and ally of the LGBTQ+ community. Because anytime you have that, there’s a need for advocacy,” said Phaidra Knight, a trustee of the Women’s Sports Foundation, and a panelist at the forum.

The San Francisco 49ers announced a first of its kind platform of inclusion, and LGBTQ-specific merchandise, so that the team’s Faithful can also feel comfortable being Prideful.

“Because it matters. Because it’s who we are. We care about inviting all of our fans in. to make sure everybody feels safe and welcome,” said Hannah Gordon, the team’s chief administrative officer and general counsel.

Team officials says if you join “49ers Pride” you are eligible to march with the 49ers in the upcoming San Francisco Pride Parade in June. All proceeds from merchandise sales go towards LBGTQ+ non-profits.

You can sign-up by clicking here.

Wednesday’s town hall was the latest in a series that take place each year, targeting different demographics.