UNC On Board For LGBTQ Student Athlete Campaign

CHAPEL HILL – UNC is participating in the You Can Play Project – it’s a national video campaign that shares a message of acceptance for LGBTQ student athletes.

“We think it’s really important that people feel comfortable and feel free to be themselves. We don’t want them to fear that they are gay or lesbian. We don’t want them to fear that they won’t feel accepted on their teams,” said UNC Assistant Athletic Director for Student-Athlete Development—Cricket Lane.

Universities like Duke, Miami and UCLA have already produced content for the project.

Lane and Terry Phoenix, the Director UNC LGBTQ Center, have also worked together to educate student athletes, coaches, and staff about the importance of creating a safe atmosphere for LGBTQ student athletes.

Lane says a number of students athletes have been out while playing their sports.

“We wanted to make sure that every student athletes feels that way—that they can come out,” she said. “We want to have the foundation set that athletes can be themselves with out be made to feel inferior or in-fear.”

UNC athletics got involved in a similar project in 2012, called “It Gets Better.” They produced a YouTube video featuring UNC Athletic Director Bubba Cunningham and student athletes promoting anti-bullying and suicide prevention for LGBTQ teens.

Students and staff are in the planning stages for the video. Lane says they hope to have it finished by the end of the summer. It will be featured on the You Can Play website.


UNC Fosters Inclusive Environment For LGBTQ Student Athletes

CHAPEL HILL – NBA player Jason Collins is the first openly gay athlete to come-out while playing in a major American team sport. On the collegiate level, UNC is taking steps of it’s own to ensure that the athletic community is welcoming of LGBTQ student athletes.

“I think that there is a desire and openness to create an inclusive and welcoming environment,” said Terri Phoenix, Director of the UNC LGBTQ Center.

She’s worked with students from a variety of backgrounds on their sexual orientation and/or gender identity.

Phoenix and Cricket Lane— the UNC Assistant Athletic Director for Student-Athlete Development— have also worked together to educate student athletes, coaches, and staff about the importance of creating a safe atmosphere for LGBTQ student athletes.

“And I do a lot of education work with athletics so pretty much every year I talk with the incoming first year football players,” Phoenix said.

UNC plans to participate in the You Can Play Project according to Phoenix. It’s a national campaign dedicated to ensuring equality, respect and safety for all athletes, without regard to sexual orientation.

Universities like Duke, Miami and UCLA have produced content for the project. The National Hockey League Players’ Association and the National Hockey League announced a partnership with You Can Play in April.

Released in April of 2012, Phoenix says the “It Get’s Better” video also shows the university’s attitude towards acceptance. It was part of the national campaign: It Gets Better.

In the YouTube video—UNC Athletic Director Bubba Cunningham along with more than 30 student athletes from 10 varsity sports teams—promoted anti-bullying and suicide prevention for LGBTQ teens.

Phoenix is also a member of the new task force— charged with reviewing and enhancing the university’s policies and procedures for handling student-on-student complaints of harassment, sexual misconduct or discrimination.

It’s chaired by Christi Hurt, UNC’s new Interim Title IX Coordinator.

The task force will meet through out the summer and present recommendations to the current policy by the next school year.

“A lot of people have talked about that policy as specifically sexual-assault related—but it’s supposed to be covering a broader area than that,” she said.

Phoenix will bring her background in LGBTQ counseling and violence prevention to the discussion on sexual assault.


New Task Force To Tackle UNC Sexual Assault Issues

CHAPEL HILL – The on-going federal investigation around UNC’s handling of sexual assault cases is far from over. But a new task force has been charged to review and enhance the university’s policies and procedures on the issue. It’s a diverse, 21-member compilation of students and leaders with in the Carolina community.

Christi Hurt, UNC’s new Interim Title IX Coordinator, will serve as the chair of the task force. She’s currently on leave as director of the Carolina Women’s Center.

“We’re going to really line-up the current policy with all of that feedback and federal regulations to create a product that works for the entire campus community,” Hurt said.

Click here to see UNC’s current policy.

Ann Penn, UNC’s Equal Opportunity/ ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) Officer, appointed the task force. Members were selected based on their experience and/or research related to the complex issue. They’ll meet through out the summer.

UNC Student Body President, Christy Lambden, is a member. In preparation for the work to be done this summer, Lambden created an all-student task force that has met three times. They came-up with 27 recommendations that he’ll present to Hurt.

“Change is in the works and change is likely to happen over the summer; I am excited to be a part of it,” Lambden said.

Terri Phoenix, the Director of the UNC LGBTQ Centerhas done interpersonal primary prevention work for most of her career. She’ll bring expertise in national best-practice approaches to preventing sexual assaults.

“I think that I can bring a perspective that is really a tune to looking at all of the intersecting identities and communities that we have on campus as we think through the policies, the prevention, and the response planning,” Phoenix said.

The task force will follow guidance from the Office for Civil Rights and build on the recommendations of Gina Smith.

Smith is a former prosecutor whom Chancellor Holden Thorp recruited in January. Smith is helping the University sort through the sexual misconduct investigations. She’s working with more than a dozen universities, helping to open up dialogues about sexual assault.

In an earlier interview with WCHL, Smith said she sees her role as on opportunity to shift the University’s culture regarding the way sexual assault is viewed.

“Her feedback and the feedback she’s has collected from the people at UNC is going to be a tremendous influence on this policy,” Hurt said.

Hurt says the goal is to present recommendations to Penn at the end of the summer—but the work won’t end then.

“I expect us to be a living document figuring out what is working here for the community so there will be an unveiling in the fall, but we will continue to welcome feedback,” Hurt said.

Hurt invites the community to visit the Campus Conversation on Sexual Assault website over the summer—it will continue to be updated with the work of the task force.

Students, faculty, staff, alumni, parents and others may submit ideas to the task force through the site’s virtual suggestion box.


Task Force Members

  • Christi Hurt (Chair), Interim Title IX Coordinator and currently on leave as Director, Carolina Women’s Center
  • K.E. Akin, graduate student
  • Kiran Bhardwaj, Graduate and Professional Student Federation President
  • Sarah-Kathryn Bryan, undergraduate student
  • Alice Dawson, Senior Assistant Dean, Academic Advising Program, College of Arts and Sciences
  • Jayne Grandes, Investigator, Equal Opportunity/ADA Office
  • George Hare, Deputy Chief, Department of Public Safety
  • Robert Joyce, Charles Edwin Hinsdale Professor of Public Law and Government, School of Government, and Chair, Student Grievance Committee
  • Christy Lambden, Student Body President
  • Rebecca Macy, L. Richardson Preyer Distinguished Chair for Strengthening Families, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Associate Professor, School of Social Work
  • Sandra Martin, Professor of Maternal and Child Health and Associate Dean for Research, GillingsSchool of Global Public Health
  • Laurie Mesibov, Ombuds, University Ombuds Office, and Professor of Public Law and Government, School of Government
  • Allen O’Barr, Director, Counseling and Wellness Services
  • Terri Phoenix, Director, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) Center
  • Robert Pleasants, Interpersonal Violence Prevention Coordinator, Campus Health Services
  •  Kelli Raker, Rape Prevention Coordinator, Dean of Students Office, Student Affairs
  • Ew Quimbaya-Winship, Deputy Title IX Coordinator/Student Complaint Coordinator, Student Affairs
  • Desiree Rieckenberg, Senior Associate Dean of Students, Dean of Students Office, Student Affairs
  • Kara Simmons, AssociateUniversity Counsel
  • Anna Sturkey, Undergraduate Student Attorney General, Student Government’s representative, Committee on Student Conduct, and a member of the Sexual Assault Policy Response Team
  • Amy Tiemann, community member and a Chapel Hill author and educator focused on issues of parenting, child safety, politics and culture.

Serving ex-officio are:

  • Ann Penn (Ex Officio), Director, Equal Opportunity / ADA Office,
  • Winston Crisp (Ex Officio), Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs.