The Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) posted a series of pro-LGBTQ statements last week, changing its Twitter profile picture to include an LGBTQ Progress Pride flag before removing it on Monday.
Coinciding with the beginning of Pride Month on June 1, the social media campaign began with a Pride statement from the LPGA on Twitter. The statement included a rainbow background behind a message reading “Happy Pride Month” and “We stand with our LGBTQ+ communities.”
Further, the account urged followers to “Join the LPGA in celebrating #PrideMonth as we continue to stand with and support the LGBTQ+ community.”
The LPGA also posted a Progress Pride flag as its Twitter profile picture, but the flag was removed sometime before Monday afternoon.
A reiteration of the rainbow flag intended to highlight support for specific minority groups, part of the Progress Pride flag emphasizes those who fall under the transgender umbrella, which includes people who identify as neither male nor female.
Since the LPGA was founded in 1950 to promote women’s golf and provide a space where women could professionally play the sport separately from men, the inclusion of a Progress Pride flag could be seen as conflicting with the LPGA’s status as a gender- or sex-segregated sports league.
Some female golfers balked at the LPGA’s decision to wade into controversial topics.
Self-described golfer Lori Hoeksema responded to the LPGA’s account with a picture of an American flag, stating, “This is our pride flag.”
The golf association also maintains a diversity statement on its website, stating that it does not discriminate against people based on gender, despite being an organization established to provide women an exclusive league to play professional golf.
“Diversity is about understanding and valuing what makes us different. Dimensions of diversity include — but are not limited to — race, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, age, physical abilities and appearance, socio-economic status, religion, political beliefs, etc.”
Still, the golfing association’s name includes the word “Ladies,” which has also been deemed a “microaggression” by some LGBTQ activists.
Overall, according to the LGPA’s website, the organization is built on a culture of emulating the league’s founders in promoting diversity.
“Our culture at the LPGA is built on a powerful principle: ‘Act Like a Founder.’ Our 13 Founding members were passionate about making golf more diverse — in the broadest sense — and leaving the game better than they found it. They were determined, tenacious, creative and feisty. And, they had the courage to stand up for their convictions.”
Another woman who replied to the LPGA on Twitter, Karen Wallace, appeared to consider the pro-LGBTQ message reflective of this principle, writing, “Well done LPGA. Stand for appreciation of ALL diversity.”
On the opposite end of the spectrum, many users expressed disapproval of the stance.
Meanwhile, another Twitter user took more of a middle ground:
“I respect the #PrideMonth and all who love freedom and opportunity,” wrote Charles Mataraza, following it up with, “Keep women’s sports a place where female athletes feel safe and competition is solely conducted between biological females. Huge fan of LPGA and Ms. Marcoux is a fine Commissioner.”
Transgender athletes have recently begun to compete in various global women’s golf tours, with transgender golfer Breanna Gill winning a WPGA Tour of Australasia event in April.
With the LPGA’s decision to remove a two-year ban on golfers who had undergone gender reassignment surgery, it is considered only a matter of time before transgender golfers begin to receive tour cards from the LPGA. This represents a stark departure from an organization that denied transgender golfer Lana Lawless entry into the tour in 2010, stating that the organization maintained a “female at birth” policy.
After Lawless was denied from entering the tour, she sued in a San Francisco court, and the LPGA voted to end the “female at birth” policy. Later, in 2021, the LPGA and U.S. Golf Association dropped their two-year gender reassignment surgery ban.
The Dallas Express contacted the LPGA’s communications team and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion staff to inquire about the social media campaign and ask whether the tour plans to change its name to avoid discriminating based on gender by excluding everyone but “ladies.”
The LPGA did not respond to our request for comment by publication deadline.