As reported today by Outsports, the International Triathlon Union has decided to reverse a recent rule change that would have banned rainbow flags or other symbols of LGBTQ pride under a propaganda ban.
It's important to give credit where credit is due. We applaud the International Triathlon Union for understanding how a rule banning LGBTQ symbols of pride during races could negatively affect athletes and for quickly taking action to reverse its previous rule change. The ability to have open discussions and find the best outcomes for all athletes, fans, and organizations is a win for all of us.
The International Triathlon Union, the main governing body of for triathlons around the world, has already received deserved critism for a recent rule change that could mean banning rainbow flags and other forms of "propoganda" that demonstrate an athlete's sexual orientation. The new rule states:
“Athletes will avoid displaying any kind of demonstration of political, religious, sexual orientation or racial propaganda.”
You Can Play works hard to assure sport is a place where everyone is welcome, and is free to show their pride. Our work across professional, collegiate, and amateur sports is dedicated to this mission. Visibility is an important part of that, and rainbow flags or other symbols of pride are how athletes can create that needed visibility as proud LGBTQ athletes or as allies.
Athletes should be free to bring their whole selves to their sport, especially among identities that have historically been a cause of discrimination within sports. The International Triathlon Union may have good intentions of creating safe spaces for their races, but rainbow flags or other symbols of LGBTQ pride shouldn't be considered propaganda, and this is a step in the wrong direction for showing younger athletes that if you can play, you can play – regardless of your sexual orientation.
We are proud of the work we've done with Chris Mosier and others in the triathlon community, and certainly across all sports. We'll continue to partner with leagues and governing bodies, including attempts to work with the International Triathlon Union, to educate organization, players, coaches, and fans about ways to ensure all athletes are judged on their skill and work ethic alone, not their sexual orientation or gender identity.