EAGAN, Minn. —The Minnesota Vikings will become the first NFL team to host a summit and fundraiser focused exclusively on LGBTQ inclusion in sports.
The day-long summit will be held at TCO Performance Center on Thursday, June 21, and 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. The Vikings are inviting Minneapolis-St. Paul college and high school coaches, staff and school administrators, as well as local LGBTQ organizations, to attend. Following the event, a reception will raise funds for local and national LGBTQ organizations.
"The Vikings are committed to leading efforts that raise awareness and create positive change for LGBTQ athletes across the country, and we are proud to bring together some of the nation's thought leaders to create an engaging and impactful discussion," said Vikings Chief Operating Officer Kevin Warren. "This event will highlight the role each of those involved in sports, including coaches, players and executives, can play to promote equality within sports teams. We are also proud to raise funds for meaningful local and national LGBTQ causes."
"I'm extremely excited to join the Vikings in making this significant event a reality," said former Vikings punter Chris Kluwe. "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."
Panel sessions will include the following topics:
Athletes as Allies
(Role that allies of LGBTQ athletes can play in creating an inclusive environment)
The Role of Coaches
(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)
The Power of Visibility: Institutions and Individuals
(How can leaders transform institutions to be fully inclusive of LGBTQ athletes)
The current lineup of speakers/participants includes:
Nevin Caple, Co-founder, LGBT SportSafe
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
Additional speakers will be announced closer to the summit.
"I am honored to be a part of this first-of-its-kind event," said Louganis. "The summit will help promote a dialogue that moves our great sports institutions towards a more inclusive future. I'm proud to support this effort and send a clear message to LGBTQ athletes that leaders across sports are working to ensure they are welcomed and valued."
Mosier said he is "thrilled to join the Minnesota Vikings in June to promote inclusion and respect for LGBTQ athletes.
"The Vikings are engaging in a critical conversation, particularly for transgender athletes, and I am looking forward to contributing to the conversation in the Twin Cities," Mosier said.