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On Tuesday USA Cycling revealed details of its 2021 Inclusion Conference, a meeting between cycling industry groups and individuals to discuss how to make the sport more inclusive to marginalized communities.
The conference was launched in the wake of legislatures in Arkansas and other states passing laws that restrict the rights of transgender individuals, prompting a public call to boycott bike races and bike companies based in these states.
According to a USA Cycling release, the Inclusion Conference will be held in Colorado Springs, Colorado this coming September — the exact dates have yet to be announced — and the conference will be produced in part by consulting agency The Inclusion Playbook, a group led by civil rights advocate Ashland Johnson.
The conference will focus on four underrepresented groups in cycling: BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, disabled athletes, and women. According to USA Cycling CEO Rob DeMartini, the conference will also work to create a coalition of brands and individuals to promote inclusivity in cycling on a year-round basis.
“A key outcome of the DEI Conference will be the announcement of the Cycling Inclusion Coalition, a group of like-minded brands, companies, groups, and individuals committed to actively working to create and foster inclusive and safe spaces in cycling,” DeMartini said in a release. “A critical first responsibility for this group will be creating an LGBTQIA+ grassroots activation plan to be implemented and tested in Arkansas alongside the upcoming international cyclocross events in October 2021 and January 2022.”
The release outlined the five primary goals of the conference:
- Provide voice, visibility, and industry-wide accountability for underrepresented communities in cycling.
- Educate the broader cycling industry on the importance of creating and fostering inclusive and safe spaces for all.
- Provide and disseminate examples of inclusion best practices for specific audience groups (e.g., brands, teams, event organizers).
- Establish cycling industry inclusion commitment.
- Shape and launch the Inclusion Coalition.
According to the release, the plan is to share the DEI activation plan with other national governing bodies, as well as with event organizers in local communities.
USA Cycling was one of the organizations to come under fire after Arkansas passed its anti-trans laws, since the organization is associated with the sport’s international governing body, the UCI, which later this year will hold a cyclocross World Cup and the 2022 world championships in Arkansas.
USA Cycling is also slated to hold its professional road national championships in Tennessee, which also passed anti-trans legislation in March.
After the governing body revealed details of its Inclusion Summit, Molly Cameron, a transgender cyclist and advocate, released a statement that both praised and criticized the meeting.
Public Response to USA Cycling's Inclusion Conference. pic.twitter.com/RyINElVhT3
— Molly Cameron (@themollycameron) May 11, 2021
Cameron applauded USA Cycling for hiring The Inclusion Playbook to help guide the conference but then criticized the meeting for inviting brands and organizations that have not hired LGBTQ+ employees.
“I find this whole conference problematic. From what I can tell, there are still no LGBTQ+ cyclists involved in the representation or employed by USA Cycling or the brands and organizations scheduled to attend the September conference,” Cameron wrote. “DEI work is crucial, and every business, brand, and organization within cycling should be doing their own internal DEI work and training for their paid staff and leadership.”
Cameron said that she and other LGBTQ+ cyclists plan to create their own national representation and voice, and that they plan to announce details of the plan during Pride month, which runs June 1 – 29.
“We believe that USA Cycling is completely ill-equipped to act as an LGBTQ+ and BIPOC advocacy organization. Instead, it should be USA Cycling’s priority to focus on its own mission while hiring BIPOC and LGBTQ+ employees and training members of their staff that are not part of these marginalized communities,” Cameron wrote.