Over fall break, Kenyon athletic coaches, staff and administrators participated in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division III’s LGBTQ OneTeam training program. The program, which is meant to foster greater inclusion for LGBTQ+ student-athletes at D-III schools, is the NCAA’s first inclusion training program.
Only 35 co-facilitators across the country have been trained to teach the course. Timothy Bussey, Assistant Director of the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (ODEI), is one of these individuals.
“There’s an emphasis on LGBTQ+ terminology, institutional and statewide non-discrimination policies, and then the bulk of [the program] is really talking about … the practical things that we can be doing on campus to better support queer and trans student-athletes.”
According to Bussey, the program focuses on real scenarios that have happened at D-III schools across the country.
“Some of [the scenarios] are dealing with what to do when you encounter homophobic language or homophobic slurs on a sports team,” said Bussey. “Some of them deal with, [more] specifically, ‘how do you support a trans student who comes out to you and is transitioning, but still wanting to play on a team that corresponds with their gender?’ They’re all very practical, specific scenarios that, again, have all happened at [D-III] schools.”
The Kenyon Athletic Center (KAC), as Bussey noted, has already taken steps to ensure that it is a welcoming environment to queer and transgender students. For instance, the KAC contains multiple gender-neutral bathrooms. After the conclusion of the program, a giant OneTeam training program banner now hangs in the front of the center.
“[The banner] is sort of a visual cue to show ‘Hey, this is something we’ve invested in, and … is something we want to showcase,’” Bussey said.
Coaches have been receptive to the results of the program. “I thought it was very helpful,” Chris Brown, head coach of the men’s soccer team, said. “[I] really enjoyed it.”
Bussey and Kayla Gordon co-facilitated the program at Kenyon. Gordon is the associate head women’s basketball coach at Denison University and the only other person in Ohio qualified to facilitate the training program. The two plan to expand the program beyond Kenyon and Denison, currently the only two locations in Ohio at which it has been held. Bussey and Gordon’s main target is the remainder of the Ohio Five schools: Ohio Wesleyan University, College of Wooster and Oberlin College.
Bussey believes that Kenyon can set a positive example for these other schools, and that hosting this program is a testament to the moral fabric of the Kenyon community.
“At the end of the day, having a program like that matters because it sends a message not only to our current campus community, but [also to] our prospective students [and] to our alums that [the LGBTQ+ community] is a community we value, and we value them in all aspects of campus life,” he said.