Homophobic abuse can put LGBT students off sport for life
A report recently published by the National Union of Students (NUS) has found that almost half of those in college and university who do not participate in any sport (46.8%) find the culture to be alienating and 41.9% said they had a negative experience at school which has meant that they don’t want to get involved.
Only a third (34.6%) of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) students at college or university participate in organised team sport and one in seven (14.3%) said that homophobia, biphobia or transphobia had put them off participating in sport, while many LGBT students (37.8%) who do take part in sport are not open about their sexuality with teammates or coaches.
The most popular suggestion for improving inclusion of LGBT students in sport among those surveyed was to tackle the wider issue of homophobia/biphobia/transphobia in schools (48.3%).
NUS’ ‘Out in Sport’ report also recommends that sports teams publicly demonstrate their inclusiveness, and make clear they will not tolerate abuse.
The report calls on students’ unions to take a lead in ensuring that sports facilities, teams and staff are LGBT-friendly and that schools teach LGBT inclusiveness in sports.
Finn McGoldrick, NUS LGBT Officer (Women’s Place), said: “No student should feel excluded from participating in any activity open to their peers – particularly not something as integral to university and college life as sport.
“Drawing on the research, this report makes ten practical recommendations for actions that colleges and universities, sports teams and students’ unions can take to begin to remove the barriers to LGBT students’ participation in sport.
“We look forward to working with all those involved with ‘Out in Sport’ in order to make college and university sport more welcoming for LGBT students, and indeed, for everyone.”
Adding his support, Gareth Thomas, former Wales rugby union captain, said: “NUS’ ‘Out in Sport’ project is truly ground breaking and I am delighted to support it. Attitudes have changed and the time is right for sport to start accepting openly gay people in the same way other areas of society have in recent years.”
Steven Davies, Surrey and England cricketer, said: “Out in Sport sends a positive message to other LGBT people – that they can do it too. The report also identifies room for improvement and positive practices that can make a very real difference to participation.
“Most LGBT students participate in individual sport or fitness activity through their students’ union or university, and as the report shows, most have a positive experience.
“But too many who don’t participate in sport find the culture around sport alienating or unwelcoming, and many had negative experiences at school or experienced discrimination which put them off participating.”