Hudson Taylor, founder and director of Athlete Ally, spoke to an assembly of students in the gym on April 28 about the importance of supporting Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender athletes and students. The TPHS Gay Straight Alliance and the athletic department coordinated to bring Athlete Ally to TPHS. The nonprofit organization provides campaigns and educational resources to “foster inclusive sports communities,” according to its website.
According to girls’ athletic director Charlenne Falcis-Stevens, the event was more about “awareness [of LGBT issues on campus] than anything else.”
“I think that it’s important to show students that there are people willing to have a conversation about [LGBT issues],” GSA member Milena Chakraverti-Wuerthwein (11) said.
At the assembly, Taylor emphasized the fact that “we all share a responsibility in making our schools, sports teams and communities as inclusive as we can be.”
“You don’t have to be a member of the LGBT community to care about LGBT [rights],” Taylor said. “I don’t have to be a woman to call myself a feminist. [The presentation is] about understanding that ally-ship is a commitment to making your school more inclusive and the realization that there’s never been a successful social justice movement for a minority without the support of the majority.”
Taylor said that he is most concerned with how TPHS responds to his message.
“I think it was a wonderful opportunity to speak to and work with so many students,” Taylor said. “But I’m really interested in and excited about what direction they take this message and carry it with them to make the culture of Torrey Pines more inclusive.”
Taylor’s movement includes an online Athlete Ally pledge that has been signed by professional sports teams, collegiate athletes and Olympic athletes who commit to creating an “inclusive space for people of all gender identities, sexualities and mixed gender expressions,” according to Chakraverti-Wuerthwein.
On April 29, Falcis-Stevens and 34 TPHS athletes from football, track and field, lacrosse, basketball and field hockey went to Petco Park to line the bases and sign the Athlete Ally pledge with the San Diego Padres.
“We are … the first high school [to sign the Athlete Ally pledge] and that means, hopefully, that the overall high school community will be more inclusive,” Chakraverti-Wuerthwein said. “I think that the immaturity of many high schoolers and the ignorance about the topic is part of the problem, so by Torrey Pines stepping up as a huge school with amazing athletics, maybe we will start a trend that other schools will follow.”
Principal David Jaffe said he hopes the LGBT acceptance and equality can grow “on a bigger scale” in future years.