Athlete Ally is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization to end homophobia and transphobia in sports and educate athletic communities to stand up against anti-LGBT discrimination. The organization's programming includes a curriculum for student-athletes, including an NCAA guide, an ambassador program for youth, collegiate, professional and international athletes, who work to foster “allyship” in their athletic environments, workshops and resources for leadership and inclusion trainings for youth, pro and international sports participants and social mobilization campaigns, including the Principle 6 Campaign launched during the Sochi Olympics. Athlete Ally is a close partner of the NBA and National Basketball Players Association, MLB, the NCAA and the Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center.
As an athlete in high school and college, Hudson Taylor often observed the use of homophobic language and demeaning humor, especially in sports. Soon after enrolling at the University of Maryland, he befriended LGBT students in his theatre classes and became increasingly aware of the pain caused by homophobic behavior. Hudson, who is not gay, felt it was imperative that he confront an aspect of sports that no athlete should be proud of: sports marginalize LGBT athletes, coaches and others through systemic homophobia and transphobia. He decided to take action as a straight ally to change athletic culture for the better. To stand in solidarity with the LGBT community, Hudson wore an LGBT equality sticker from the Human Rights Campaign on his wrestling headgear in college. Though he encountered criticism from his peers, he received positive attention from the media, and received thousands of emails from parents and closeted athletes, expressing thanks and sharing their own experiences of homophobia in sports. This inspired Hudson to launch Athlete Ally. When he blogged about experiencing homophobia in collegiate sports, he received hundreds of emails from closeted athletes. In 2013, Taylor received an Emery Award for his work with Athlete Ally.
When Hudson Taylor founded Athlete Ally, he stated that his goal was to help stop the "hurtful homophobic language that can destroy team morale". The organization is not interested in converting religious or political views on homosexuality, but rather on promoting respect. According to Taylor, "We need to have a united athletic environment in order to be successful. Even the smallest amount of homophobia or transphobia divides a team." Taylor believes that gay athletes have a unique platform from which to change the locker-room culture and that gay athletes in major sports leagues have a responsibility to come out.
Athlete Ally implements programming through educational resources and workshops and public awareness and mobilization initiatives. Its programs focus on all levels of athletic participation, though most are executed at the high school, college and professional levels.
Athlete Ally is a close partner of the NBA and National Basketball Players Association on player development, delivering trainings at the NBA Combine, the NBA/NBPA Annual Rookie Transition Program, along with workshops for the Team Player Development Directors. The organization also supports the NFL on LGBT awareness programming.
The organization develops and facilitates LGBT awareness and ally trainings at scores of colleges and high schools. Its programs often include meetings with athletic directors and staff and keynotes to groups ranging from entire student bodies to individual teams. Athlete Ally also works closely with the NCAA and other Division I, II and III athletic conferences. In 2013, Athlete Ally's Executive Director Hudson Taylor co-authored the NCAA’s first-ever handbook for college athletes, coaches and administrators on LGBTQ policies and best practices. The policy guide is a comprehensive overview with recommendations, instructions and guidelines around best practices and policies for creating LGBTQ inclusive athletic cultures. The document is nearly 100 pages and covers everything from intra-team dating guidelines to how a coach should respond when an athlete comes out. In addition to providing best practices recommendations, the guide offers an assortment of sample policies, LGBTQ definitions and terminology, and other helpful resources.
In 2013, in partnership with the Huffington Post, Athlete Ally launched a year-long "Voice to Voice" interview collaboration featuring LGBT and ally people of color leading the movement to end anti-LGBT bias in athletics. The program has featured such contributors as fighters Fallon Fox and Jessica Aguilar, University of Maryland Athletic Director Kevin Anderson, US tennis star James Blake, transgender rights activist Kye Allums and Athlete Ally Youth Programs Leader Akil Patterson. Patterson also spearheaded a partnership between Athlete Ally and the National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC) in February 2014 to release the Legends and Leaders List of 2014 honoring lesbian, bisexual, gay, transgender, queer and intersexed (LGBTQI) leaders of color in sports.
The organization's college and high school activity is led by Athlete Ally Campus Ambassadors, a volunteer network of athletes, coaches and administrators who work to uphold the principles of respect and inclusion in their athletic communities. The Athlete Ally Ambassador Program is a volunteer-based initiative, helping college students across the country and the world connect with their campuses to spread Athlete Ally’s message of inclusion in sports. Ambassadors are asked to present to athletic directors, student leaders, coaches, teams, and student-run groups about the organization and encourage their peers to sign the Athlete Ally Pledge and stand up as allies through a range of campus programs. Ambassadors work directly with Athlete Ally to brainstorm programs and events that shed light on the mission. Some of its more active campus ambassador programs include:
- Brown University
- Cornell University
- Duke University
- Fresno State
- Ithaca College
- Kent State
- Luther College
- Marist College
- Mercyhurst University
- Montclair State University
- Ohio State University
- Princeton University
- Rutgers University
- The College of William and Mary
- University of California, Los Angeles
- University of Colorado, Boulder
- Virginia Commonwealth University
- Whittier College
- Whitman College
Athlete Ally implements campaigns and programs to raise awareness about homophobia and transphobia in sports. These programs mobilize the public to identify as allies and encourage their family, friends and followers to do the same. For example, the Athlete Ally professional ambassador program consists of professional and international athletes and coaches helping to promote Athlete Ally’s mission. These athletes and coaches speak out to their peers, teammates, leagues, sports and fan bases about LGBT inclusion and respect and encourage their colleagues to join in the effort.
Professional ambassadors of the organization include:
- Association of Tennis Professionals: Andy Roddick, Mardy Fish
- Australian Rules Football: Brock McLean
- Cricket: Alex Blackwell
- Fitness Industry: Shaun T 
- MLS: Omar Gonzalez, A.J. DeLaGarza, Stephen McCarthy, Chris Seitz
- NASL: Kyle Altman, Etienne Barbara, Simone Bracalello, Pablo Campos, Carl Craig, Justin Davis, Kevin Friedland, Max Griffin, Miguel Ibarra, Brian Kallman, Manny Lagos, Kentaro Takada, Connor Tobin, Travis Wall
- NBA and international basketball: Kenneth Faried, Dan Grunfeld
- NFL: D'Qwell Jackson, Chris Gocong, Eric Barton, Brendon Ayanbadejo, Chris Kluwe, Scott Fujita, Donte Stallworth, Connor Barwin
- NWSL: Sarah Huffman, Heather O'Reilly, Sydney Leroux, Megan Rapinoe, Jess Fishlock, Abby Wambach, Becky Sauerbrunn, Kim Little, Ali Krieger, Beverly Yanez, Lauren Barnes, Zakiya Bywaters, Estelle Johnson, Keelin Winters, Liz Bogus, Karina LeBlanc, Marian Dougherty, Meleana Shim, Amy LePeilbet, Leslie Osborne, Erin McLeod, Lori Lindsey, Michelle Cruz, Elli Reed, Merritt Mathias, Yael Averbuch, Caroline Kastor, Mandy Laddish, Frances Silva and Erika Tymrak
- Rugby: David Pocock, James Hilterbrand
- UFC: Rashad Evans
- WNBA: Kristi Toliver
Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center partnership
In 2013, Athlete Ally announced a partnership with the Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center to unveil an exhibit and series of educational programs about alllyship in sports. According to the museum, "the 800-square foot exhibit will examine the evolution of societal attitudes around inclusion and acceptance in sports, from Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier in baseball in 1947 to the courageous strides made by women in the sports world, up to the current social movement to end homophobia in sports. The exhibit will focus on the critical role played by athlete allies in accepting and respecting all people, regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation."
When asked about the significance of the partnership, Yogi Berra said: "Respect the game, respect others – that's what I always learned in sports.” He also added: "Whatever background or whatever you are, it doesn't matter. Treat everyone the same, that's how it should be."
Board of directors and advisory board
The Athlete Ally board is composed of some of the most respected and qualified individuals in sports, media, and LGBT advocacy. The board works to implement the mission and vision of Athlete Ally and develop its strategic plan. The board of directors includes Hudson Taylor, Mike Balaban, Sean Avery, Brian Ellner, Alison Grover, Laura Clise, Lia Parifax, Sam Marchiano, Frederick Raffetto, Frank Selvaggi, Robert Smith, Joe Solmonese, Mark Stephanz, Sandye Taylor, Andrew Ward, Deborah Block and Christine Quinn.
Athlete Ally also includes an advisory board of athletes, media, academics, and other sports professionals that help drive the organization's programmatic work. The advisory board includes:
- Brendon Ayanbadejo, chairman of Athlete Ally Advisory Board, NFL player
- Kathleen Behrens, executive vice president, Social Responsibility & Player Programs, NBA
- LZ Granderson, journalist and commentator, CNN & ESPN
- Brett Haber, sportscaster, The Tennis Channel
- David Kopay, former National Football League Player, author of The David Kopay Story
- Mark Kriegel, commentator on NFL Network's morning show NFL AM, Author of Namath: A Biography; Pistol: The Life of Pete Maravich; and The Good Son: The Life of Boom Boom Mancini
- Beth A. Livingston, assistant professor of human resource studies, Cornell University
- Martina Navratilova, professional tennis player and coach
- Akil Patterson, director of programs/ Greco - Roman wrestler, Terrapin Wrestling Club
- Nick Rogers, president, Minnesota United Football Club
- Robbie Rogers, professional soccer player
- Erin Sharoni, host, "Romering the World", Jim Rome on Showtime
- Rennae Stubbs, professional tennis player
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