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Nevin Caple speaks about LGBTQ inclusion in collegiate athletics

Diversity consultant speaks in final Gender and Sports Speaker Series of school year

The final event of the Gender & Sports: Beyond Equality Speaker Series was held Wednesday and featured Nevin Caple, a strategic diversity consultant on LGBTQ inclusion in sport. Caple sits on the Women’s Sports Foundation’s Advocacy Committee and is a founding member of the Nike LGBT Sports Coalition. Students, athletes, student athletes and community members gathered in Kissick Auditorium to engage in conversation on how to best promote an inclusive community.

Caple, who returned to the Farm for the first time in six years — a time span during which she continued to speak and consult to students, administrators and professionals in athletic communities across the country, started her talk off by sharing what she hopes to achieve through her work.

“Most of us had times when we felt isolated, when we felt like we didn’t belong,” Caple said. “The opportunity now as student leaders and student athletes here at one of the top institutions in the country is to find ways we can continue to model those inclusive behaviors to people that look up to us.”

Caple also shared her personal experiences and struggles as a former student athlete who identified as LGBTQ as she imparted advice on what Stanford can do as a community to include students who may face similar difficulties as her younger self as they come to terms with their identity.

She described that as a student athlete, grappling with one’s LGBTQ identity can be particularly difficult due to the lack of dialogue on sexuality in sports.

“In athletics, we just didn’t talk about being gay,” Caple said.

She also noted that the athletic scene can uphold expectations, such as a culture of toxic masculinity, which can further fuel this culture of silence.

“When we tell or teach our young men that we can’t show weakness and that we can’t show emotions, they hide,” Caple said.

Compared to past decades, Caple is hopeful that today the sports community is more willing to  include narratives that were previously overlooked as many more people “have a relationship” with someone who identifies as LGBTQ. As a result, Caple noted that “[LGBTQ] experiences are personalized” for people who are allies to the community.

“The people who are in power [are] giving up a little bit of that power,” Caple said.

In line with the conversation on sports, the event featured interactive games with the audience, which encouraged participants to share their previous knowledge on the intersection of college athletics and the LGBTQ community. This sparked conversation amongst the audience as each individual worked with teammates to address Caple’s questions, mirroring perhaps what Caple aims to achieve through her advocacy work.

“Continue to have conversations and hopefully, when you feel like you’re grounded, take that mask off,” Caple said. “I promise you that whoever it is behind is good enough.”

Contact Inyoung Choi at ichoi ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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