Creating and Sustaining Workplace Cultures Supportive of LGBT Employees in College Athletics

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George B. Cunningham Texas A&M University

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The purpose of this study was to understand (a) how participants conceptualized lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) inclusiveness in their athletic departments, (b) the antecedents of such workplace environments, and (c) the outcomes associated with inclusion. To do so, the author conducted a collective case study of two college athletic departments located in the U.S. Northeast. Data sources included individual interviews with coaches and administrators (n = 17), a reflexive journal, websites, university materials, and external publications. Participants described the athletic departments as characterized by community and cohesion, respect and inclusion, and success oriented. Various antecedents contributed to these workplace environments, including those at the individual level, leader behaviors, inclusive organizational policies, and macro-level influences. Finally, while some negative outcomes were identified, LGBT inclusion was predominantly associated with a host of positive outcomes for the employees, athletes, and organizations as a whole.

George B. Cunningham is with the Department of Health and Kinesiology, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas, United States.

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