Ben Cohen, MBE, is an England Rugby World Cup champion and among the world’s greatest athletes. He ranks second in all-time scoring for England, and first among straight professional athletes to focus his philanthropic efforts for the benefit of the LGBT community. In May 2011, Cohen founded the StandUp Foundation, Inc., the world’s first foundation dedicated to raising awareness of the long-term, damaging effects of bullying. The StandUp Foundation funds those doing real-world work to stop bullying, regardless of to whom it happens. Because lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people are often targeted by bullies, the foundation gives particular attention to this community. Cohen and his Foundation consider promoting diversity and inclusion in sports as central to the mission.
In Ben’s own words, “I lost my own father to violence when he stood up for an employee who was being attacked. I’ve heard from my wonderful friends in the LGBT community about the hard roads too many have traveled. And many parents have shared painful stories with me about how their children, who might be perceived to be different, are ruthlessly attacked and scared of their own schools. I am passionate about standing up against bullying and homophobia in sports, and feel compelled to take action. It is time we stand up for what is right and support people who are being harmed. Every person on this planet has a right to be true to themselves, to love and be loved, and to be happy. I encourage others to stand up with me and make a difference.”
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