The index, created by Athlete Ally, a nonprofit advocacy group focused on LGBTQ+ equality measures, inclusion policies and practices within collegiate athletics.
In 2017, Athlete Ally, a nonprofit advocacy group focused on LGBTQ+ equality, created the Athletic Equality Index (AEI) to measure inclusion policies and practices within collegiate athletics. The index focuses on how the 65 NCAA Division I institutions within the Power Five conferences – the Big 12, ACC, Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC – support LGBTQ student athletes, coaches, administrators, staff and fans.
An updated AEI released in December reflects just how far Texas Tech University has come since 2017, when the university established the Office of LGBTQIA Education & Engagement within Student Affairs and the Division of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion: a 22-point jump for a score of 90 out of 100 points on the index.
The efforts to foster and amplify a culture of equity and inclusion on campus took Texas Tech from a 2017 score in the bottom half of the Big 12 Conference, and among other Texas institutions, to second place in both groups this year. The score also puts the university well above the Big 12 average (69.8), the averages of the other conferences (between 65.6-83.5) and the overall average for all five conferences (76.3).
"The Athletic Equality Index is a tool similar to the Campus Pride Index used to assist institutions in reviewing their progress towards LGBTQIA inclusivity for student athletes, coaches and staff," said Jody Randall, director of the Office of LGBTQIA Education & Engagement. "It presents a snapshot of where an institution ranks compared to others in the same athletic conference, and beyond, on commonly effective policies and practices. Whether we are on the court, track or field or in the classroom, lab or library, Texas Tech University is emerging as an institution of distinction for LGBTQIA inclusion."
Data for the updated AEI, collected between July 1 and Nov. 1, 2019, was analyzed using a methodology that focuses on the existence of policies, resources and support in eight areas:
- Comprehensive, non-discrimination policies that explicitly protect the sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression of LGBTQ+ faculty, staff, students and varsity student athletes. (35 points)
- LGBTQ+-specific resources and educational materials student-athletes can access. (20 points)
- An inclusive fan code of conduct that explicitly protects LGBTQ+ coaches, athletics staff, referees, varsity student athletes and spectators. (10 points)
- The institution has adopted and made accessible a written inclusion policy for transgender, varsity student athletes. (10 points)
- LGBTQ+-focused and inclusive student groups or initiatives that intersect with athletics. (10 points)
- Out or ally-trained coaches and athletic administrators who are publicly out, open and/or vocal. (5 points)
- A pride night or other non-recurring LGBTQ+ event co-hosted by athletics within the past year. (5 points)
- A framework for, or history of, athletics partnering with other LGBTQ+ campus groups for recurring events over the past two years. (5 points)
Texas Tech offers training and support for faculty, staff and students who want to become allies. In addition to the Tech Gender and Sexuality Association, intersectional student groups include PrideSTEM, for students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines; and TTU OUTlaw within the School of Law.
Throughout the year, the Office of LGBTQIA Education & Engagement hosts a robust event calendar, including the Queer Reels, Real Topics film series, an annual Pride Week celebration in October, an annual Big 12 LGBTQIA & Allies Summit in the spring and Lavender Graduation ceremonies. The office also provides information about on- and off-campus resources for those who want to find support or discuss sexual or gender identity, who need legal or mental health services, or who want to learn more about the LGBTQIA community.
"Texas Tech Athletics and the Office of LGBTQIA Education & Engagement have made notable gains since the last report by Athlete Ally, specifically focusing on student-athlete initiatives and campus partnerships relative to diversity and inclusion," Randall said. "We have been and will continue to be committed partners in strengthening inclusivity with other institutional areas, specifically Student Affairs and the Division of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion."