Memorial University has launched a campaign to promote acceptance amongst all athletes, and to encourage people in the gay and transgender community to get involved in varsity sports.

The university released a video on its website Wednesday as part of the You Can Play project, depicting MUN athletes in a show of solidarity for athletes of all sexual orientation and gender.


Sea-Hawks athletic director Michelle Healey says the video is about respect. (CBC )

"The message is all about respect," said Michelle Healey, the athletic director for Memorial University Sea-Hawks. "Respect for people, whoever they are."

The You Can Play project is a movement to ensure that sports arenas and locker rooms are free from homophobia, and that athletes are judged soley on their talent, desire and hard work.

"Within the sporting community, it's not been as open as an environment as we'd like it to be," said Healey. "However, I've been here at Memorial for the past 14 years and our athletes have come forward and said that we offer a very safe and respectful environment for student athletes, regardless of the situation."

Needs reinforcement

But Noah Davis-Power, a member of LGBT-MUN, an organization which supports gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students, said the message in Memorial's video must be reinforced.

"In major league sports organizations, there's still a lot of homophobia," he said.


Noah Davis-Power of LGBT-MUN says the video's message is especially important for new students. (CBC)

"Even over the past year so, it's so important that sports teams here take a stand and make sure that the LBGT community here, those who take part in sports, that they feel welcome as well."

Davis-Power added that the message is especially important for students making the transition from high school to university.

"I do a lot of my work in high schools. I still see homophobic bullying. It is so rampant, especially on the sports teams.

"So, the fact that MUN has taken the time from all different sports teams here and contributed to a video that says it's OK to be you. If you can play, you can play.

"That is such a great thing and makes you feel welcome here."

New university students got a preview of the video during last week's orientation.

Officials at Memorial said they hope the video will send a broader message of inclusiveness, and make it clear that everyone is welcome in sport at the university, regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation or gender.