ASU needs to offer more inclusive policies in sports programs

As the least inclusive of the Pac 12 schools, ASU needs to make changes to policies

The deafening cheers rock the stadium as fireworks launch into the sky. Students beam from ear to ear and stamp their feet in unison. 

There is no question that ASU students have pride for their sports teams, but we have not always been the most inclusive. ASU needs to offer more support to their LGBTQ athletes.

Athlete Ally, a nonprofit organization that aims to promote inclusivity in sports, released the Athletic Equality Index. The purpose of the index was to measure the effectiveness of LGBTQ inclusive policies and practices across the NCAA. 

Each school included was given a rating out of 100 based on how LGBTQ-inclusive the sports teams are. ASU was included in this list and the rating that we received was eye opening.

“What we really wanted to do was measure organizational, institutional commitments to LGBTQ inclusion, so in terms of policies and practices that exist separate from student athletes, but to benefit student athletes and fans and coaches,” Liam Miranda, the research and program manager of Athlete Ally, said. 

“I think if we have policies and practices in place, then the culture can kind of follow through that ... It’s hard to have that culture of acceptance without that institutional commitment.” 

Out of the Pac 12 schools included in the index, ASU had the lowest score, with a rating of 55.5 out of 100, alongside UA. While ASU did score 28/35 in the non-discrimination policy and 20/20 in the accessible resource categories, it dropped the ball in the rest of the categories.

ASU does not follow the NCAA policy for transgender inclusivity, nor does it have a LGBTQ student-athlete group or initiative, an "outspoken or allied staff" or a pro-LGBTQ campaign or statement, which resulted in the University losing a total of 30 points.

According to Miranda, each school was contacted with their score and given the opportunity to implement specific policies that may have been missing.

This is a problem that affects all of ASU, because without implementing policies to combat this disparity, ASU is fostering an environment of exclusivity, which is an extremely negative shadow to cast. 

Our score reaches beyond athletics and to the rest of the communities in our school — complete inclusivity only truly exists if it prospers in all areas, not just one.

"At the end of the day, the difference between a really, really great university and a university that is maybe not doing so well, is not necessarily where they are at right now, but what they do with the score," Miranda said. 

Instead of reflecting on the poor score, this could be an excellent teaching opportunity. There is only shame in this score if we do not use it increase our inclusivity

By not protecting LGBTQ students in sports, ASU is fostering a negative environment for all LGBTQ students at ASU.


Reach the columnist at jlferrig@asu.edu or follow @Jess_Ferrigno on Twitter.

Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.

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