Big Ten Conference Hosts Its First LGBTQ+ Symposium

Big Ten Conference Hosts Its First LGBTQ+ Symposium

The Big Ten Conference (Big Ten) hosted its first LGBTQ+ Symposium today, at the Big Ten Headquarters and Conference Center in Rosemont, Illinois, to celebrate the start of PRIDE Month.

The Big Ten will welcome more than 100 student-athletes, coaches and administrators from its 14 (soon-to-be 16) member institutions – along with a remarkable group of guest speakers – marking the conference’s ongoing commitment to the LGBTQ+ community. Participants of the Big Ten LGBTQ+ Symposium will discuss and share leading practices, guidelines and activities relating to each of the Big Ten campuses and communities throughout the conference.

In June 2022, the Big Ten established an LGBTQ+ working group within the larger Big Ten Equality Coalition to foster inclusivity and support of LGBTQ+ communities throughout the conference membership. The LGBTQ+ working group – comprised of 18 student-athletes, coaches, and administrators – advised the conference on the structure and programming of the Big Ten LGBTQ+ Symposium.

“The Big Ten LGBTQ+ Symposium is an opportunity to bring our community together and it underscores our mission to provide transformational educational experiences and growth opportunities to our student-athletes,” said Big Ten Commissioner Tony Petitti. “We greatly appreciate the Big Ten LGBTQ+ working group for their hard work, guidance and commitment to the conference and its Equality Coalition.”

Leading up to the Big Ten LGBTQ+ Symposium, a networking dinner for event attendees will be hosted on May 31. Retired Penn State University Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics Sandy Barbour, a 40-year veteran of college athletics as a student-athlete, coach and administrator, will deliver opening remarks at the evening’s celebration.

The Big Ten LGBTQ+ Symposium continues June 1 with a full day of programming at the conference headquarters hosted by Big Ten Network broadcaster and Milwaukee Bucks play-by-play announcer Lisa Byington. Attendees will first hear from a panel entitled “The Current State of College Athletics.”

Following the opening panel, Big Ten LGBTQ+ Symposium attendees will participate in four breakout sessions covering a variety of topics. The breakout sessions, designed to offer more comfort in smaller groups, are presented in partnership with Big Ten sponsor Old National Bank as a sign of its ongoing commitment to both the Big Ten and LGBTQ+ communities.

The four breakout sessions are:

  • “Equipping Allies” — discussing best practices for allies on how to engage, support, and understand LGBTQ+ individuals on your campus.
  • “Intersection of Identity” — exploring what identity means, lived experiences and how to stay one’s authentic self in the face of adversity.
  • “On the Field” — discussing topics that affect LGBTQ+ student-athletes and coaches with a focus on language, culture, and unwritten rules.
  • “Legal Landscape of College Athletics” — discussing the key laws in place or proposed legislation that may impact the LGBTQ+ community, specifically within athletics.

Following the four breakout sessions, Big Ten LGBTQ+ Symposium attendees will gather for a final panel – “The Future of the LGBTQ+ Community of Athletics” – hosted by Sports Equity Foundation representative Robert Gorman.

The Big Ten is honored to welcome the following guest speakers and panelists to the Big Ten LGBTQ+ Symposium:

  • Sandy Barbour (she/her); retired Penn State University Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics
  • Sara Burton (she/her); University of Illinois Senior Woman Administrator
  • Lisa Byington (she/her); Big Ten Network broadcaster and Milwaukee Bucks play-by-play announcer
  • Em Chermaie (they/them); former University of Nebraska rifle student-athlete
  • Christina Diaz (she/her); Penn State University Assistant Athletic Director for Development and Enrichment
  • Corliss V. Garner (she/her); Old National Bank EVP, Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer
  • Anil Gollahalli (he/him); Big Ten Conference Chief Legal Officer and General Counsel
  • Robert Gorman (he/him); Sports Equity Foundation
  • Raina Harmon (she/her); University of Iowa assistant women’s basketball coach
  • Eriana Henderson (she/her); Big Ten Conference George and Viola Taliaferro Fellow
  • Janet Judge (she/her); Education and Sports Law Group LLC Partner
  • Erica Lafayette (she/her); Rutgers University basketball student-athlete
  • Resa Lovelace (she/her); University of Maryland Assistant Athletic Director for Student-Athlete Development
  • R.J. Mansfield (he/him); Under Armour designer
  • Jailyn Mason (she/her); Big Ten Conference George and Viola Taliaferro Fellow
  • Shannon Minter (he/him); National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) Legal Director
  • Patrice Palmer (them/them); TEDx speaker and motivational leadership coach
  • Zana Patterson (she/her); Under Armour digital marketing lead
  • Danielle Pulliam (she/her); University of Wisconsin Assistant Athletic Director for Diversity and Inclusion
  • AG Shah (they/them); Former Northwestern University fencing student-athlete and current Northwestern director of fencing operations
  • Alexandra Sommer (she/her); Ohio State University Academic Counselor and Student-Athlete Engagement Coordinator and member of the OSU women’s ice hockey coaching staff
  • Charron Sumler (she/her); Ohio State University athletic counselor
  • Hudson Taylor (he/him); Athlete Ally
  • Joi Thomas (she/her); University of Minnesota Executive Associate Athletic Director for Health & Performance
  • Cece Villa (she/her); University of Nebraska soccer student-athlete

While the Big Ten LGBTQ+ Symposium is an invitation-only event, the Big Ten Network, along with the Big Ten’s primary social media channels on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, will provide coverage of the celebration.