In 2012, You Can Play Project was launched to protect and advocate for athletes around the world who face homophobia and transphobia in their locker rooms, fields, rinks, and stadiums. It is a simple message for fans, coaches, athletes, and anyone in the sports space; it is applicable for any age, in any setting, and it remains the backbone of You Can Play - athletes should be given a fair opportunity to compete, judged by others only by what they contribute to the sport or their team’s success.
You Can Play fights so athletes of all levels are judged solely on talent, heart, desire and work ethic -- and not on the basis of sexual orientation and/or gender identity. Simply put, if you can play, you can play.
While the concept “if you can play, you can play”is straightforward, it also represents a standard that, despite our progress, the world of sports is far from achieving. The causes for LGBTQ discrimination in and around sport are complex and often difficult to understand or measure; but its presence is very real and presents deep and damaging barriers to LGBTQ athletes of all levels, especially young people. Such discrimination not only can be a barrier to participation and success in sport but, at worst, can cause severe psychological and emotional damage, often leading to withdrawal, depression, and even suicide.
You Can Play’s messaging is not just directed to those who identify as LGBTQ, but those around them: active allies and others- their teammates, coaches, families, fans, and communities as a whole - without judgement or assumption. Changing the experience of LGBTQ athletes, coaches, and fans is about changing the world around them, not just their own internal feelings of acceptance and willingness to be their true selves.