Everton will reaffirm its commitment to inclusivity in football by supporting Stonewall’s Rainbow Laces initiative at Saturday’s home game against Chelsea (8pm kick-off GMT).
Rainbow Laces promotes LGBT+ inclusion in sport, and Stonewall is Europe’s leading charity for lesbian, gay, bi and trans equality, working with more than 750 organisations to help them further strengthen their commitment to the LGBT+ community and ensure they offer an environment where everyone can be themselves.
In May 2020 Everton announced it had become one of the first football clubs to sign up as a Stonewall Diversity Champion, taking the Club’s commitment to the LGBT+ community to the next level by learning from and working with Stonewall, and incorporating their best practice into everything the Club and Everton in the Community does.
Rainbow Laces branding will be displayed at Goodison Park on Saturday to emphasise the Club is welcoming for all and does not tolerate any form of homophobia, biphobia or transphobia. A Rainbow Laces pitch flag, rainbow-coloured ball plinths, corner flags and substitution boards will all be used at the fixture to back the initiative.
Fans will also be able to read an interview and listen to a podcast with former Everton midfielder Thomas Hitzslperger, who played for the Club from 2012-2013, and who remains one of the only professional footballers to come out as gay.
The Club’s social media accounts will feature Rainbow Laces imagery, Club avatars and web headers will reflect the fixture, and a Rainbow Laces article will feature in the matchday programme.
In the week leading up to the game, Everton in the Community will host tailored sessions on LGBT+ inclusivity in primary schools across the city, through the charity's Premier League Kicks and Premier League Primary Stars youth programmes. Schools have been invited to wear rainbow colours, and will join a keep-up challenge, take part in workshops and will be invited to enter a poster-designing competition promoting LGBT+ awareness in sport.
Everton’s backing of Rainbow Laces forms part of the Club’s All Together Now initiative, which promotes equality and diversity in everything that Everton and Everton in the Community does.
Since its launch in December 2018, All Together Now branding and the tagline 'a football family for everyone' has been used across LED perimeter boards, the jumbotron screens and in concourses at Goodison on matchdays, while several schemes to encourage equality have been developed by the Club across Merseyside.
The Club is a proud supporter of Liverpool City Region Pride, works closely with supporters’ group Rainbow Toffees and also has a thriving LGBT+ staff network who run awareness raising activities and share ideas and advice across the Club and Everton in the Community.
Sophie Cowell, Everton’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Adviser, said: “We are proud to be supporting the Stonewall Rainbow Laces initiative. This weekend marks our first Rainbow Laces fixture as a Stonewall Diversity Champion, further demonstrating our commitment to ensuring that everyone that comes into contact with our Club and Everton in the Community feels welcome and can be their whole selves.
“Our staff LGBT+ network is going from strength to strength, we work closely with the Rainbow Toffees supporters’ club, and we are proud to be making an impact through the inclusivity work being undertaken by Everton in the Community. We are always on the lookout for new ways to promote diversity and inclusion.
“Everton is a football family for all, and it is important to us to live those values of family and inclusivity in everything we do.”
If you’re interested in finding out more about Rainbow Toffees, please email email@example.com