May 16, 2018 10:25 PM
The Minnesota Vikings will become the first NFL team to host a summit on LGBTQ inclusion in sports.
The Vikings announced Wednesday the summit will be held at the team's headquarters in Eagan on June 21. A reception will be held afterward to raise money for local and national LGBTQ organizations.
The team is working to create opportunities for people in the LGBTQ community.
"We hope that this really jump-starts the conversation," Vikings chief operating officer Kevin Warren said.
The seeds for the summit were planted in 2014 when former Vikings punter Chris Kluwe accused a Vikings coach of making anti-gay comments.
Kluwe and the Vikings reached an agreement, and the team promised to educate the public about LGBTQ causes.
In a statement released through the Vikings, Kluwe said:
"I'm extremely excited to join the Vikings in making this significant event a reality. While it's a positive step forward for both the Vikings and the NFL, what's really critical is how we all use our platforms to improve people's lives. We've pulled together true leaders who can bring legitimate change through their respective organizations and our goal is to put together an event that can be replicated by teams and leagues moving forward."
"People mature," Warren added. "And organizations mature. And I think we both looked at each other and said we have an opportunity here."
The day-long summit will focus on the critical importance of LGBTQ inclusion in sports.
LGBTQ thought-leaders, athletes, coaches, team executives and members of the media will come together to share ideas and best practices through a series of panel discussions, interviews and testimonials from LGBTQ athletes.
"You know, we live in a complicated society," Warren said. "But even with all that complication, it provides us with opportunity to do great things and help make the world a better place to live."
Panel sessions will include the following topics:
• The role allies of LGBTQ athletes can play in creating an inclusive environment.
• How coaches can create a positive, inclusive and winning team environment.
• High-profile LGBTQ athletes will share inspiring stories, challenges and observations on coming out, success in sports and the work remaining to be done.
• How can leaders best transform institutions to be fully inclusive of LGBTQ athletes?
The current lineup of speakers/participants includes:
• Nevin Caple, Co-founder, LGBT SportSafe
• Robert Gulliver, Chief Human Resources Officer, NFL
• Chris Kluwe, former professional football player for the Minnesota Vikings
• Greg Louganis, Olympic diver and LGBTQ activist
• Chris Mosier, First known out transgender athlete to join a U.S. national team
• Samantha Rapoport, Director, Football Development, NFL
• Esera Tuaolo, former professional football player for the Minnesota Vikings, current musical performer and LGBTQ activist
• Stephanie White, Head Women's Basketball Coach, Vanderbilt University
"And we're not looking for any accolades and patting ourselves on the back," Warren said. "What we're saying is this is an opportunity for people to get better. For us to deal with certain issues that definitely exist in society.
"And we might as well get them out on the table and we might as well talk about these issues."
The summit and fundraiser will benefit LGBTQ organizations.
"We might as well give people the resources to educate others," Warren said. "And I think the more we in society - regardless of our race, our background, our financial situation, ethnicity, sexual orientation - the more we can come together to say this is life, and how can we make this world a better place to live.
"I think this is what this is going to do."
The Associated Press contributed to this story
Updated: May 16, 2018 10:25 PM
Created: May 16, 2018 05:02 PM
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