COC Hosts International Roundtable Tackling LGBTQ Issues In Sport

TORONTO — On Thursday, the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) announced that the Bonham Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies at the University of Toronto has joined You Can Play and Egale in its #OneTeam partnership.

The new partnership with one of Canada’s most prestigious academic institutions will introduce a new course concentrating on LGBTQ inclusion in sport and will be announced during an international roundtable of sport, corporate, government and academic leaders. Sponsored by the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), attendees and speakers will come together to discuss important and cross-sectorial issues impacting LGBTQ athletes at all levels of competition.

The new Sports and Sexual Diversity course is one of the first of its kind in the world, and will be fully-accredited and available for any University of Toronto student to take. It will also go a long way in exploring the role of sport at all levels – including Olympic – in promoting social inclusion on and off the field of play.

The COC will be intimately involved in the designing and development of the course, together with You Can Play, Egale and the Bonham Centre. It will also provide Olympians, national team athletes and Canadian Olympic Committee executives the opportunity to be guest speakers to students taking the course. Play As You Are

Building on the #OneTeam announcement in December, 2014, where the COC announced their organization’s desire to improve the culture in locker-rooms and boardrooms across Canada, the #OneTeam Roundtable will bring together a group of thought leaders for an international discussion. Attendees will include Olympians, athletes and leaders from organizations such as: the Women’s Tennis Association, Canadian Paralympic Committee, Commonwealth Games, Deloitte, Federation of Gay Games, PrideHouseTO and CAAWS to discuss the next steps required to realize a safer and more inclusive sports system.

It will also be part of a two-day program, which included a Wednesday night screening of Back on Board, the Greg Louganis documentary, and will conclude with the Bonham Centre Awards reception, which this year is honouring LGBTQ Olympic Champions Greg Louganis, Mark Tewksbury and Marnie McBean.


“Thank you to all the partners who are joining us in Toronto for the first #OneTeam LGBTQ Roundtable. Collectively, we will be able to take another positive step forward in ensuring inclusion for our LGBTQ athletes. Through our partnership with You Can Play and Egale, we have already made some positive headway in this conversation, and with the addition of the Bonham Centre, we will be able to take further steps in improving the culture for all athletes in sport. Together, we are not only talking about the change we want to see, but actually doing the important work necessary to be that change.”

Chris Overholt, CEO, Canadian Olympic Committee


“You Can Play sees the International Roundtable on LGBT Inclusion as another opportunity to inform the public on the importance of our work, share LGBT sport stories of triumph and continue to educate each other on how to continue to create safe and equitable space for LGBT individuals in sports.”

Wade Davis, Executive Director, You Can Play


“We are happy to participate in this great cross sector initiative focusing on dialogue and systemic change to address homophobia, biphobia and transphobia in sport.  Through collective effort, we can advance safer LGBTQ inclusion and high performance.”

Helen Kennedy, Executive Director, Egale


“Today is a great step forward for both the academic and sporting communities in Canada. While there is still a significant amount of work to do in ensuring all athletes feel welcomed in sport, today’s commitments serve as another milestone for LGBTQ inclusion in sport. Thank you to the COC, Egale, You Can Play and to RBC for their valuable work and support on this gathering and in announcing the introduction of a sport and sexual diversity course. We are excited to be joining the #OneTeam partnership.”

Brenda Cossman, Professor & Director, Mark S. Bonham Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies


“I am really excited about the important discussion that is happening around LGBT issues and sport.  When I came out back in 1998, there was no room for discussion of these issues.  In fact, it was all a new language for the sport world, one that made most people feel uncomfortable.  Today, I can say with great pride and joy that there has been a shift in the Canadian sport system with many athletes from different sports coming out, and the COC and other sport leaders being engaged in discussion about how to create the best possible environment for them to be supported.  Bravo!”

Mark Tewksbury, two-time Olympian, three-time Olympic medallist


“The news that the COC is hosting an international roundtable on inclusion in sport makes me even more proud to be associated with the Olympic Movement in Canada. All athletes, regardless of race, gender or sexual orientation deserve the opportunity to be included equally in sport. As the Chair of the COC’s Athletes’ Commission, where my job is to represent all athletes in Canada, it is fantastic to see the incredible work being done to ensure we are meeting these responsibilities.”

Jeff Christie, two-time Olympian and Chair of the COC Athletes’ Commission

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