LGBTQ Youth Athletes Should ​‘Play Proud’

Long after the World Cup, coaches and mentors can help make soccer more inclusive.

Whether you call it soccer, football, or “the beautiful game,” it’s a global phenomenon.

Played in stadiums, in streets, and in dusty fields all over the world, the game will seize the international spotlight later in June when Russia hosts the 2018 FIFA World Cup in 11 cities — from Sochi to St. Petersburg.


Play Proud is a vital new initiative from Streetfootballworld USA designed to protect some of soccer’s most vulnerable players, and June is Pride Month.

The face of the campaign is American soccer star Megan Rapinoe, a member of the 2015 World Cup team that won gold in Vancouver, Canada. Rapinoe plays for the Seattle Reign FC, one of the founding teams of the National Women’s Soccer League. Proudly out, Rapinoe says that growing up, she would have benefitted from Play Proud’s core mandate of making youth soccer more inclusive and coaches more aware.

Rapinoe believes sports environments have traditionally not been safe spaces for LGBTQ youth, but she hopes this initiative will help change that for the next generation.

“Sometimes kids in the sports system can feel like they’re alone or like they don’t have anybody to talk to,” she said in the promotional video for the campaign. “Coaches want to do what’s right, they just don’t know how or they don’t know how to get information.”

Play Proud from Arch Rivals on Vimeo.

Play Proud is the brainchild of Lilli Barrett-O’Keefe, regional manager for Streetfootballworld USA, a global network of over 125 soccer-based non-profits in 80 countries helping to tackle social issues impacting young people. These include homelessness, gender-based violence, and gang culture. Now, having seen a tremendous need, Play Proud seeks to make youth soccer a safe space by educating coaches and staff about the challenges facing LGBTQ youth.

Among those challenges: a widespread perception that their communities don't accept them and that youth sports is not safe or welcoming, which is likely preventing participation. According to recent data, LGBTQ youth are twice as likely as their peers to be physically assaulted in school and half as likely to participate in organized sports.

“In the current political climate, an increasing number of LGBTQ youth are bullied in school, are victims of abuse and harassment, and experience homelessness and social isolation,” Barrett-O’Keefe says.

Through a crowdsourcing campaign that launched June 6, Barrett-O’Keefe and Play Proud were aiming to raise $100,000 to reach 3,600 coaches and 62,000 youth with a simple training toolkit.

The next phase will target 35,000 coaches and 2.5 million youth worldwide.

“Coaches have such powerful influence and impact on kids’ lives,” she says. “This kit gives coaches a basic 101 understanding of how to work with this population, helping them to understand the nuance of gender and sexuality. And it’s just as much for the straight kids.”

More than a billion people watched 2014’s FIFA World Cup final. This year, the World Cup is being hosted by a nation historically hostile to its LGBTQ citizens— a degree of discrimination that the U.S. State Department calls “widespread” and which spiked after the passage of the country’s notorious 2013 anti-gay “propaganda law.”

Now, through the confluence of Pride Month and the World Cup, Streetfootballworld sees a unique opportunity to get the message of inclusion out to players, coaches, and viewers.

Play Proud also wants to change the experience of many gay athletes, many of whom feel that their identities as members of the LGBTQ community and as athletes must exist in isolation.

“We believe you can be an out gay athlete,” Barrett-O’Keefe says. “For so many young LGBTQ youth, there is no safe space to be themselves and to be heard. We believe soccer can fill that void. Play Proud can save lives, literally.”

Sports
via Smithfly.com

"Seventy percent of the Earth is covered with water, now you camp on it!" proudly declares Smithfly on the website for its new camping boat — the Shoal Tent.

Why have we waited so long for camping equipment that actually lets us sleep on the water? Because it's an awful idea, that's why.

"The world is your waterbed," Smithfly says on its site. But the big difference is that no one has ever had to worry about falling asleep and then drowning on their waterbed.

RELATED: A ridiculous dad transformed Billie Eilish's 'Bad Guy' into a 3-minute long musical dad joke

While it is possible that one could wade into the water, unzip the tent, have a pleasant slumber, and wake up in the morning feeling safe and refreshed, there are countless things that could go terribly wrong.

The tent could float down the river and you wake up in the middle of nowhere.

You could have to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night.

This guy.

It could spring a leak and you could drown while wrapped up in eight feet of heavy nylon.

A strong current could tip the tent-boat over.

There isn't any way to steer the darn thing.

This guy.

Mashable shared a charming video of the tent on Twitter and it was greeted with a chorus of people sharing the many ways one could die while staying the night in the Shoal Tent.

Oh yeah, it's expensive, too.

Even though the general public seems to think the Shoal Tent is a terrible idea, according to the Smithfly's website, it's currently sold out due to "popular demand" and it will be "available in 6-8 weeks." Oh, and did we mention it costs $1,999?

Lifestyle
via zoezimmm / Imgur

There are few more perniciously dangerous conspiracy theories being shared online than the idea that vaccines cause autism.

This has led to a decline in Americans vaccinating their children, resulting in a massive increase in measles. This year has already seen over 1,200 cases of measles, a disease that was eradicated in the U.S. nearly 20 years ago.

A 2015 Pew Research study found that 83% of Americans think the measles vaccine is safe, while 9% think it's not. Another 7% are not sure. But when you look at the polls that include parents of minors, the numbers get worse, 13% believe that the measles vaccine is unsafe.

There is zero truth to the idea that vaccines cause autism. In fact, a recent study of over 650,000 children found there was no link whatsoever.

RELATED: A new study of over 650,000 children finds — once again — that vaccines don't cause autism

A great example of the lack of critical thinking shown by anti-vaxxers was a recent exchange on Facebook shared to Imgur by zoezimmm.

A parent named Kenleigh at a school in New Mexico shared a photo of a sign at reads: "Children will not be enrolled unless an immunization record is presented and immunizations are up-to-date."

This angered a Facebook user who went on a senseless tirade against vaccinations.

"That's fine, I'll just homeschool my kids," she wrote. At least they won't have to worry about getting shot up in school or being bullied, or being beat up / raped by the teachers!"

To defend her anti-vaccination argument, she used a factually incorrect claim that Amish people don't vaccinate their children. She also incorrectly claimed that the MMR vaccine is ineffective and used anecdotal evidence from her and her father to claim that vaccinations are unnecessary.

She also argued that "every human in the world is entitled to their own opinion." Which is true, but doesn't mean that wildly incorrect assumptions about health should be tolerated.

She concluded her argument with a point that proves she doesn't care about facts: "It doesn't matter what you say is not going to change my mind."

RELATED: 12 medical professionals shared their most memorable anti-vaxxer stories and you won't stop face-palming

While the anti-vaxxer was incorrect in her points, it must also be pointed out that some of the people who argued with her on Facebook were rude. That should never be tolerated in this type of discourse, but unfortunately, that's the world of social media.

Here's the entire exchange:

via zoezimmm / imgur


via zoezimmm / imgur


via zoezimmm / imgur


via zoezimmm / imgur


via zoezimmm / imgur


via zoezimmm / imgur


via zoezimmm / imgur


via zoezimmm / imgur


via zoezimmm / imgur


via zoezimmm / imgur

The post received a ton of responses on imgur. Here are just a few:

"'In my opinion...' 'I believe...' That's not how facts work."

"You're entitled to your opinion. And everyone else is entitled to call you a dumbass."

"'What I do with my children is no concern to you at all.' Most of the time, true. When your kid might give mine polio, not true."

"If my child can't bring peanut butter, your child shouldn't bring preventable diseases."

It's important to call out people who spread dangerous views, especially how they pertain to health, on social media. But people should do so with respect and civility.

Health

He photographed Nazi atrocities and buried the negatives. The unearthed images are unforgettable.

He risked his life to leave a "historical record of our martyrdom."

via Yad Vashem and Archive of Modern Conflict, 2007

In September 1939, the Nazis invaded Poland. By April 1940, the gates closed on the Lodz Ghetto, the second largest in the country after Warsaw.

Throughout the war, over 210,000 people would be imprisoned in Lodz.

Among those held captive was Henryk Ross. He was a Jewish sports photographer before the Nazi invasion and worked for the the ghetto's Department of Statistics during the war. As part of his official job, he took identification photos of the prisoners and propaganda shots of Lodz' textile and leather factories.

Keep Reading Show less
Communities
via Imgur

Every few years there's something that goes mega viral because people can't decide what it is.

There was the famous "is it blue and black, or white and gold" dress?

There was the audio recording that said either "yanny" or "Laurel."

Keep Reading Show less
Viral


Rochester NY Airport Security passing insulting notes to travelers caught on tape www.youtube.com

Neil Strassner was just passing through airport security, something he does on a weekly basis as part of his job. That's when a contract airport security employee handed him a small piece of folded cardboard. Strassner, 40, took the paper and continued on his way. He only paused when he heard the security employee shouting back at him, "You going to open the note?"

When he unfolded the small piece of paper, Strassner was greeted with an unprompted insult. "You ugly!!!"

According to Strassner, and in newly released CCTV of the incident, the woman who handed him the note began laughing loudly.

Keep Reading Show less
popular