The National Football League and The Trevor Project have renewed their partnership through 2024, with the intent of providing educational and advocacy training to NFL staff on LGBTQ issues.
As part of the partnership, which first began in 2021, the NFL will donate $100,000 to The Trevor Project, whose services include a crisis hotline, which LGBTQ youth can call anytime they’re feeling anxious, depressed, isolated, or suicidal, and talk to a trained counselor.
In return, The Trevor Project will provide LGBTQ-inclusive programming and training for NFL staff and players, just as the organization provides similar educational programs to other groups with whom it partners.
That training will touch on different topics, including how to be an ally to the LGBTQ community, how to get involved in Trevor’s national advocacy efforts, how to recognize the signs of LGBTQ youth mental health crises, and how to de-escalate conflicts.
More than 200 NFL employees have gone through the training over the past two years, according to Michael Mendillo, the director of corporate partnerships at The Trevor Project.
“The NFL has truly been one of our more steadfast partners in this space and it’s really been a groundbreaking, mutually beneficial partnership between Trevor and a leading sports association,” Mendillo told Metro Weekly.
“This really goes beyond just financial support,” added Mendillo, “because this really is a loud and proud partnership with Trevor, which raises awareness for the state of LGBTQ mental health.”
Mendillo said The Trevor Project has worked with other sports associations, including the National Hockey League, and was one of the leaders in encouraging the NHL to reverse its ban on Pride Tape and other personal expressions of support for LGBTQ inclusion.
To mark partnership, the two organizations have cross-posted images and statements on their respective Instagram pages. The images include statistics compiled by Trevor’s various surveys and research projects.
For instance, according to the organization, 18% — nearly 1 in 5 young LGBTQ athletes — have heard anti-LGBTQ rhetoric from a sports leader or coach.
Additionally, only 4% of young LGBTQ athletes said they would talk to a sports leader or coach if they were having a hard time or were feeling sad, stressed, or depressed.
The linked images also include quotes from NFL veteran Carl Nassib, the first out gay man to make a 53-man roster and play in an official regular-season NFL game; Kevin Maxen, the strength and conditioning coach for the Jacksonville Jaguars, who recently became the first out gay male NFL coach; and Jonathan Beane, the senior vice president and chief data officer at the NFL.
“It’s been so inspiring to work with The Trevor Project to support LGBTQ youth mental health, and it’s amazing to see the NFL continue their commitment to inclusivity in sports,” Nassib said in a statement. “LGBTQ young people deserve love, support, and acceptance on and off the field.
In addition to The Trevor Project, the NFL has collaborated with GLAAD, Covenant House, Athlete Ally, and the National Gay Flag Football League to demonstrate its support for the LGBTQ community and inclusion within sports.
Mendillo said The Trevor Project’s social media team has carefully cultivated messaging about its mission and will push back against any untruthful or inflammatory rhetoric.
“We believe that no matter who you are, that you, your life should be affirmed, and that suicide prevention and crisis intervention is for everyone,” he said.
“Of course, we are cautious about the way people will try to twist and turn facts, but we’re prepared and steadfast in the way that we represent LGBTQ young people and we work with our partners, beyond political affiliation, to support LGBTQ young people, first and foremost.”
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