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PNS Daily News - August 22, 2017 


We're featuring a variety of stories in today’s news including: a new strategy for Afghanistan; an increase in hate groups is not just an issue in the South; and high blood pressure becoming a more common problem among children and teens.

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U.S. Olympic Committee Commits to Transgender Athletes

Representatives from Colorado College and the University of Colorado Boulder joined athletes from 16 states to train with Olympic medalists at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. (Pixabay)
Representatives from Colorado College and the University of Colorado Boulder joined athletes from 16 states to train with Olympic medalists at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. (Pixabay)
August 2, 2017

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - In the wake of President Trump's move to oust transgender people from the military, the U.S. Olympic Committee doubled down on its commitment to diversity this week.

The USOC is honoring FLAME, a program that encourages minorities - including LGBTQ athletes - to take leadership roles in Olympic and Paralympic sports. Ashland Johnson, director of public education and research for the group Human Rights Campaign, said that when people from different backgrounds and experiences unite under a common goal, in the military or in sports, teams can be hard to beat.

"How do we continue to expand inclusion in sports? Because from what we've seen, it strengthens our institution," she said. "It's not a distraction. It's not a weakness. It solidifies us and makes us stronger."

The 2017 class of FLAME (Finding Leaders Among Minorities Everywhere) includes 27 students from 16 states. Patricia Chen from Colorado College and Gabriella Scott of the University of Colorado Boulder made the cut and trained with Olympic medalists and hopefuls this week at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs.

Johnson said sports organizations have made big contributions promoting LGBTQ-friendly policies on and off the field, including professional teams welcoming openly gay players, the NCAA's release of best practices for equality, and new policies for including transgender athletes in competitions.

"After we saw what President Trump's announcement about the military was," she said, "it shows that while some institutions are moving backwards when it comes to LGBT inclusion, other major institutions - like sports - are still moving forward."

There's more work to do, she said. The NCAA still allows members to remove people who identify as LGBTQ from competition, and Johnson said many young athletes continue to play in states that don't have anti-discrimination laws on the books.

Information about FLAME is online at teamusa.org/flame.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - CO