Slam dunk! UConn women's basketball in support of LGBT inclusion

As some of the most recognizable names and faces in the country, the Huskies understand the importance of using fame and notoriety to impact social change. UConn women’s basketball partners with Br{ache the Silence Campaign as the first team to kick off Tour of Champions, a national initiative to increase the visibility of positive role models by highlighting NCAA Division I women’s national champions who advocate for LGBT inclusion in women’s college sports.

Four members of the UConn women's basketball team, Bria Hartley, Stefanie Dolson, Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis and Brianna Banks used their own creative vision to share the importance of being not only the best in the game, but champions of respect and inclusion both on and off the court.

The student-athletes created a video to say gay athletes are welcome at UConn and bullying people based on their sexuality is not tolerated. Watch the video and learn more at BTS Tour of Champions

The UConn men's hockey team made a video last year for the You Can Play project.

Mosqueda-Lewis said, "all of us have friends or family members who are gay, and we want to show we support them." She also emphasized that the coaches are about recruiting basketball players and good people. Auriemma said he considers the sexual orientation of his players or potential recruite to be "intensely personal" and nothing that coaches should concern themselves with. He said he is proud that his athletes decided to speak out.

Aurimma was also quoted saying in the Washington Post, "I think it's the responsibility of college kids to bring awareness to issues and be the agents of change." 

The campaign was created two years ago by former Division I college basketball players, Colleen McCaffrey and Nevin Caple. They had the vision for the campaign to bring attention to issues of discriination involving sexual orientation in women's sports. 

Those issues were highlighter earlier this year when former Baylor center Brittney Griner said she was encouraged to keep her sexuality a secret while at the school. 

The UConn team is the first to make a video for what they are calling "Tour of Champions", said Caple. The "Tour of Champions" will feature a new team or player each month standing up for LGBT rights.This month, the Universtiy of North Carolina women's lacrosse team will launch their finished video. 

Caple said, "we hope Tour of Champions will build a pipeline of leadership, creating greater visibilty of positive role models in women's sports, which benefits all people at all levels of competition, not just the LGBT community."

College sports and professional sports are the highlight of our society's entertainment; the athletes are under the watchful eye of fans and viewers. That said, there could not be a better way to encourage LGBT inclusion and acceptance than through the lense of athletics. The UConn women's basketball team have taken the intiaitive to change the sports world into being a more inclusive and accepting environment for all athletes, fans, and coaches. 

 

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