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Out On the Fields – Cross National Study of Homophobia in Sport Published 10th May, 2015

10/05/2015

Outonthe fieldsA major new study of homophobia in sport was published on the 10th May. Out On The Fields, surveyed over 9,500 people and asked them about their experiences of homophobia, including witnessing incidents of homophobic harassment. Participants were not only lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans but heterosexual too. The study gathered data from the US, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Ireland. Key findings from an analysis of the global data include:

Sport Participation
• The majority of lesbian, gay and bisexual people said they played a wide variety of sports,particularly in their youth (under 22).

• 1 in 4 (27%) gay men did not play youth team sports with many of these men saying negative experiences in school PE class (44%) turned them off playing team sports or they feared they would be rejected because of their sexuality (31%).

Sporting Culture
• 46% of all participants and 54% of gay men believe LGB people are ‘not accepted at all’ or only ‘accepted a little’ in sporting culture.
• 62% of all participants and 73% of gay men believe homophobia is more common in team sports than the rest of society in their country.

Homophobia and Discrimination
• 80% of participants witnessed or experienced homophobia in sport (both straight and LGB).
• Participants were more likely to have witnessed homophobia than experienced it personally. Half (54%) of gay men and lesbians (48%) and 28% of straight men said they had personally experienced homophobia.

Of those who have been personally targeted:
• 27% of gay men and 16% of lesbians said they have received verbal threats of harm;
• 35% of gay men and 18% of lesbians have been bullied;
• 19% of gay men and 9% of lesbians have been physically assaulted;
• 84% of gay men and 82% of lesbians have received verbal slurs such as “faggot” or “dyke”.

Youth Sport (under 22)
• 73% believe youth team sports are not safe or welcoming for LGB people. There was unusual agreement across all genders, ages and sexualities on this question.
• 81% of gay youth and 74% of lesbian Australian youth said they were at least partially in the closet, keeping their sexuality secret from all or some of their teammates.
• These youth said they stayed in the closet because they feared multiple forms of discrimination, for example 49% of gay youth and 25% of lesbians feared they would bullied and 32% of gay youth and 14% of lesbians were worried about discrimination from coaches and officials. Meanwhile, 45% of gay youth and 50% of lesbians were worried about being rejected by teammates.

Where does homophobia occur?
• 66% believe an openly gay, lesbian or bisexual person would not be very safe as a spectator at a
sporting event.
• Participants believe spectator stands (41%) followed by school PE class (28%) are the most likely locations for homophobia to occur.

Recommendations

Participants were asked to select a range of possible solutions or could submit their own. The top three solutions selected were:

1. Start early with schools, coaches and parents taking homophobia and bullying seriously in sporting environments;
2. National sporting organisations need to adopt and promote clear anti-homophobia and LGB inclusion policies for professional and amateur players;
3. More LGB professional sporting stars need to come out of the closet to set an example;

The Academic expert panel suggested that:

• In many parts of the world PE teachers receive no training about homophobia or supporting LGB athletes. Coaches, physical education teachers and sport officials need mandatory training on how best to support LGB athletes.
• Sporting organisations, schools and teams need to adopt a zero tolerance for players and fans who engage in homophobic behaviour.

Media summaries, press releases and infographics for each country can be found here.

The full report can be downloaded from the http://www.outonthefields.com or from my drop box here.

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