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The Forever Proud Project was created to reinforce USL’s commitment to social impact and to provide a safe, inclusive space for all fans.

The goal of this national initiative is to prioritize education, community development programs, authentic and intentional fan experiences, relationship building opportunities, and LGBTQ+ storytelling for teams, players, and fans – all designed to support the LGBTQ+ community and the ongoing creation of a welcoming environment for LGBTQ+ fans, employees, and partners in USL communities across the country.

PROJECT OVERVIEW


PROJECT PILLARS


1.
VISIBILITY & AWARENESS: Harnessing the USL’s national reach to highlight core areas of importance specific to the LGBTQ+ community including historical context, ongoing issues facing the community, allyship, policy impact, and opportunities to drive impact and change. In support of these objectives, an emphasis will be placed on providing cultural understanding of the LGBTQ+ community to elevate visibility and awareness.
2.
TRAINING & EDUCATION: Coming together as a collective - including collaborating with industry leaders, partners, and members of the LGBTQ+ community - to empower USL stakeholders with the education, tools, and information to be more understanding, inclusive, and supportive forces in their communities.
3.
OPPORTUNITY & INCLUSIVITY: Intentional focus on creating a bridge between the USL and the LGBTQ+ community to foster an inclusive, welcoming, and safe environment – inside and outside the stadium – for all Clubs, employees, fans, allies, and communities.

YEAR-ROUND LGBTQ+ ADVOCACY


May

May 17 - International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, & Transphobia

The International Day of Homophobia, Biphobia & Transphobia represents a major global annual landmark to draw the attention of decision-makers, the media, the public, corporations, opinion leaders, local authorities, etc. to the alarming situation faced by people with diverse sexual orientations, gender identities or expressions, and sex characteristics.

June

June - Pride Month 

Pride Month is celebrated each year in the month of June to honor the 1969 Stonewall Uprising.

The purpose of the commemorative month is to recognize the impact that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals have had on history locally, nationally, and internationally

October

October 11 - National Coming Out Day 

Celebrated every year on Oct. 11, the anniversary of the National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights, National Coming Out Day is meant to celebrate the act of “coming out” – when an LGBTQ+ person decides to publicly share their gender identities or sexual orientation.

October 20 - International Pronouns Day 

International Pronouns Day seeks to make respecting, sharing, and educating about personal pronouns commonplace. Referring to people by the pronouns they determine for themselves is basic to human dignity. Being referred to by the wrong pronouns particularly affects transgender and gender-nonconforming people.

October 21 - Spirit Day 

LGBTQ+ youth disproportionately face bullying and harassment because of their identities. Each year, millions “go purple” for Spirit Day to support LGBTQ+ youth in a united stand against bullying. Pledging to “go purple" on Spirit Day is a way for everyone — global and local brands and companies, world leaders, celebrities, neighbors, parents, classmates, and friends — to visibly show solidarity with the youth and to take part in the largest, most visible LGBTQ+ anti-bullying campaign in the world.​

December

December 10 - Human Rights Day

Human Rights Day is an opportunity to reaffirm the importance of human rights in rebuilding the world we want, the need for global solidarity as well as our interconnectedness and shared humanity.

March 2022

March 1, 2022 - Zero Discrimination Day

Zero Discrimination Day is an annual day celebrated on March 1 each year by the United Nations and other international organizations. The day aims to promote equality before the law and in practice throughout all of the member countries of the UN.

April 2022

April 8, 2022 - National Day of Silence

The GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network) Day of Silence is a national student-led demonstration where LGBTQ+ students and allies all around the country—and the world— take a vow of silence to protest the harmful effects of harassment and discrimination of LGBTQ+ people in schools.

PARTNERS


You Can Play

Rooted in the mission of ensuring the safety and inclusion of all LGBTQ+ people throughout the sports ecosystem, USL is aligning with You Can Play in support of the league-wide LGBTQ+ initiative, the Forever Proud Project. Through advocacy, experiential marketing consultation, community management, and educational resources, USL and You Can Play aim to create safer access to sports, as well as create bridges between Clubs and the LGBTQ+ community.
Football v. Homophobia

To challenge discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and expression through cultural comprehension for youth soccer, Football v Homophobia (FvH) and USL are partnering to develop cultural comprehension and grassroots programming to remove discrimination and prejudice based on sexual orientation and gender identity throughout the USL Youth ecosystem, impacting the 12,000+ young USL athletes across the country.
PUMA x The Trevor Project

A strategic partnership between PUMA, The Trevor Project and the USL will deliver educational resources to support the mental health of LGBTQ young people and promote inclusive sports participation, which can help reduce risk of suicide. This initiative will be amplified by custom apparel collaborations and ladder up into PUMA’s social justice platform, #REFORM. Grounded in three core pillars — ending racial, LGBTQ+ and gender discrimination — #REFORM drives and supports social change by partnering with like-minded activists and organizations around the world.
HomeField Alliance

To create a voice and resource for LGBTQ+ professionals in the business of sport and entertainment, HomeField Alliance and USL are partnering to amplify this purpose and mission by building a community throughout the USL ecosystem. HomeField Alliance exists to foster networking, knowledge and training for LGBTQ+ professionals and their allies in the sports and entertainment industry via a robust membership platform. Members receive the resources and tools to live fully and confidently within their careers.

USL INITIATIVES


USL HQ Commitment

In February, USL HQ added the following goal to its list of key organizational objectives: Leverage the USL platform to drive social and community impact and increase representation of diverse populations throughout the USL ecosystem.

The USL will achieve this by prioritizing diverse representation, successfully launching the USL Impact Committee, sub-committees and IDEA Committee, launching league-wide social impact initiatives and increasing internal competencies. Lastly, the USL has committed to reaching an "A" grade for overall racial and gender hiring at USL HQ from The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES) by 2026.
ISSJ Training

In collaboration with the Impact Committee, the USLBPA and the USL Players’ Association, USL HQ has teamed up with the Institute for Sport and Social Justice to conduct comprehensive sensitivity and unconscious bias training for all USL HQ and Club staff, players, and other full-time employees.

The ISSJ has worked previously with MLB, NBA, NASCAR, NFL, MLS and ESPN among others and continues to be an industry leader in the training and education space surrounding areas of social impact.
In Game Activations

To better use the USL’s platform to help raise awareness about LGBTQ+ phobia and discrimination, all USL Championship and League One club captains will have the opportunity to wear "Forever Proud" armbands throughout the season.

Other in-game activations include the following:
- PA reads
- LED boards in-venue
ESPN Integration

The USL will integrate the Forever Proud Project into USL Championship and League One broadcasts throughout the 2021 season. With the most expansive linear television schedule in its history, the USL will drive a significant amount of increased awareness to issues faced by the LGBTQ+ community. This will occur through the following:
- 30-second custom halftime ad
- In-broadcast signage
- Talent and graphic reads
HQ Story Telling

Storytelling has been an accelerant to the pace of change for the LGBTQ+ community and while we live in an age of increasing queer visibility, USL HQ can use the vehicle of soccer to further represent a wide variety of LGBTQ+ people and their voices in the stories we tell.

In honor of that commitment and the deep understanding that visibility changes lives, the USL and Clubs will be publishing, highlighting and amplifying stories of LGBTQ+ fans, businesses, personnel, and members of their respective communities