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QAA hopes to bring inclusion to sports

By Lauren Miller

While athletics commonly garners the reputation as an inaccessible space for queer people, the Queer Athletes and Allies group (QAA) hopes to combat this trend by starting a conversation on the inclusion of queer athletes and students alike.

QAA, co-led by Cara Bresnahan ’19 and Cally Carr ’21, was created to “support LGBTQ students and student-athletes on campus,” said Bresnahan. 

One big goal of QAA is working with the current athletic department to make the Bear Athletic Center a safer and more inclusive space for all students. This, however, is only one part of a larger problem.

“The issue stems larger than just at the Bear and just at Grinnell,” said Carr. “You don’t really hear about queer professional athletes. I think that fosters an environment that trickles into Grinnell where many queer athletes don’t feel as comfortable or confident being true to themselves.”

To combat the exclusion many queer students feel both in athletics and on campus, QAA leads inclusion talks within athletic team to brainstorm ideas on what each team can do to foster inclusivity on their teams.

“They’re a starting off point for teams to further discussion as well as just a place to figure out what the team can improve on and reflect upon their own team culture surrounding these topics,” Carr said.

As for other efforts, QAA has worked to make athletics more inclusive to all students.

“A few years ago we hosted a town hall type meeting for both students and student-athletes where we came together and talked about why the Bear was not an inclusive space and what would need to happen in order to change that,” Bresnahan said.

This year, QAA hopes to continue the dialogue by including the general student population that wants to use the athletic center but might not feel welcome. This is on top of the club’s original goal to provide support to queer athletes on different teams to make them feel more comfortable and included.

QAA is planning to collaborate on an event with other athletic-based groups on campus, like International Athletes and Allies (IAA), so students can be exposed to the work that is being done on a variety of issues to make the campus a more welcoming space.

Additionally, the group would like to partner with The Stonewall Resource Center (SRC) to host a fun athletic event for the wider College community. It would ideally take place during Pride Week this year in order to attract people into the Bear while doubling as a fundraiser, though the club is still in the planning stages for the event.

Furthermore, Bresnahan and Carr hope to invite queer speakers to talk about their experiences in athletics, demonstrating that, while issues of inequality also exist outside of Grinnell, several opportunities exist for a fulfilling and successful career.    

The co-leaders emphasize that inclusion of queer athletes stems from just being aware and respectful of your teammates and peers, whether one participates in the group or not.

“Things you say or do may not have any intention of being hurtful, but just be aware and inclusive in your speech and in your habits in the locker room,” Carr said. “Just do your part as a teammate and an ally and you can make little differences in their experience in athletics.”

QAA meets every other Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. in JRC 203, starting Sept. 12.

Cara Bresnahan ’19 and Cally Carr ’21 will hold inclusion talks and run events to promote queer inclusion in athletics
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