Are You?

Matthew Johnson
Sports Writer

image001You may have seen the posters littered around school campus. You may also have seen some of the rocks on campus painted with the question “Are You?” Here at Upstate a group was created to help educate and inform other students athletes as well as students, about the way in which can cooperate with each other in a safe and friendly environment. Specifically, the group wants to create a positive environment in which you can feel safe and comfortable regardless of your gender identity, gender expression, and/or sexual orientation. The name of this on-campus group is called the Upstate Athlete Ally.

This group (Upstate Athlete Ally) was created to end homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia in sports. With the increasing struggles for the LGBT community and the discrimination that is so very apparent, it is hard for student athletes that compete on same-gender teams to be able to express themselves without being subject to judgment and homophobia. By educating the athletic communities, Upstate Athlete Ally seeks to empower their athletes and make it in which they feel comfortable around each other, gay or straight.

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Sophomore, Ashleigh Torres

Vice President, Track and Field athlete as well as sophomore Ashleigh Torres, mentioned her excitement at the creation of Upstate Athlete Ally. “ As someone of the LGBT community myself, sometimes I feel like I’m being judged not as a runner, but as being gay. I feel like that prevents me from being known about my athletic skill. With the creation of Athlete Ally, I hope to be just understood and represented as an athlete. When asked of how the Upstate Athlete Ally came about Torres responded:

“There is a bigger organization called Athlete Ally that was started by heterosexual wrester Hudson Taylor for Maryland. The Upstate version spawned because of a fellow sportswomen who is a soccer player here at Upstate, was taken aside by a coaches helper was addressed about he sexuality, which in turn made the athlete uncomfortable. She [the athlete] kept it in until a month later. We brought [Upstate Athlete Ally] it to Upstate to help prevent that and so we can have awareness because this a problem and the new athletic director didn’t even know it was a problem’’.

Javon Gates, sophomore volleyball player and President of Upstate Athlete Ally.

Javon Gates, sophomore volleyball player and President of Upstate Athlete Ally.

Upstate Athlete Ally is still seeking other students to come and learn about what it means to be an athlete as well as a member of the LGBT community.  Some members of the school faculty have shown support. Current SAAC (Student Athlete Advisory Committee) leader and faculty member Jim Griffis has taken the role of aiding the group. Jim Griffis is an Associate Professor of Philosophy here at Upstate and serves as the Faculty Athletics Representative (FAR) to the athletic department.

For further information you can contact President Javon Gates at gatesji@email.uscupstate.edu or Vice President Ashleigh Torres at torresas@email.uscupstate.edu.