Beat The Streets - New York City Wrestling

On Thursday, June 8, 56 student-athletes attended Life Skills: LGBTQ Awareness, presented by Hudson Taylor at the UPS Center. Taylor is a former wrestler for University of Maryland, three-time NCAA All-American, and wrestling coach for Columbia University. Currently, Taylor is the Founder and Executive Director of Athlete Ally. 

As an athlete who wrestled through high school and college, Taylor observed many instances of demeaning, homophobic behavior that encouraged an exclusive environment. As an undergrad, "he befriended LGBTQ students in his theatre classes and became increasingly aware of the pain caused by homophobic behavior." 

From his various experiences, Taylor saw there was a need to have more straight allies for marginalized LGBTQ athletes, coaches and others who regularly face systemic homophobia and transphobia. He founded Athlete Ally in order to organize actions on a larger scale and make athletic culture more inclusive. 

Athlete Ally "provides public awareness campaigns, educational programming, and tools and resources to foster inclusive sports communities." Athlete Ally mobilizes Ambassadors at the collegiate, professional and Olympic levels to foster "allyship" in their respective athletic environments. Ambassadors include over 100 professional athletes and representatives at over 80 colleges. 

It seemed that many student athletes walked away from the Life Skills workshop with important insights into the LGBTQ community and "allyship". They learned  be more careful of how they act and speak in order to create a more inclusive environment. They became more aware that people on their teams may be afraid of coming out. As one youth described, this could be due to "broken windows" in their environments—meaning homophobic comments or actions that are laughed at instead of criticized. As a result, many student-athletes learned the importance of standing up and having their voice heard in the wrestling room. "I will start to let my teammates know that I don't stand up for homophobic behavior," said one student-athlete 

Terry Adams, a sophomore at Monsignor Farrell, felt like he learned how to better approach LGBTQ issues. "[This workshop] showed me how to stand up for the LGBTQ community," said Adams. "I learned how to act-- I'll use the knowledge gained in home and in school." 

Though David Berkovicha sophomore at Poly Prep, has previously heard Taylor speak, he still found value in the topic. He described how Taylor's talks have taught him the importance of being an ally. "I will stand up for people who are being discriminated against," said Berkovich. 

This workshop helped student-athletes gain confidence to approach LGBTQ issues with the skills they learned at this workshopThe student-athletes learned how they can make an impact and  even "make someone's day better someday by speaking out," as one student-athlete put it. 

Thank you to Hudson Taylor of Athlete Ally for making such a clear impact on our student-athletes. They have learned a lot and they will hopefully move forward as great allies.

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