Take Pride in LGBTQ+ Inclusivity
Actively avoiding being pigeon-holed into clearcut, restrictive sexualities, genders and relationship types is of increasing importance to people, young and old. Ladies, gents and every beautiful gender in between, we are in a time where organisations who don’t give members the space to identify from and embody a range of identity types are seen as not only out of touch, but lacking in respect and even verging on bullying.
It’s just not good enough to say ‘I don’t get it’ or ‘Things were different in my day’. As with all areas of diversity, inclusion, equity and standing up to prejudicial behaviour, it’s never been ok to invalidate marginalised communities and it most definitely isn’t acceptable now. We know better. But do you know how this looks in practice in your sports club or organisation?
Teams and clubs are the perfect place to help people feel a sense of belonging, purpose and pride, so being forced to leave our unique identities at the door is beyond offensive. Sport is a community, and absolutely no-one should feel left out.
It’s not ‘just a phase’
LGBTQ+ isn’t just for Pride, it’s a lived experience 24/7, and it goes further than skin deep. According to the Annual Population Survey in 2020, it’s estimated that over 3% of the UK population aged 16 and above identifies as lesbian, gay or bisexual. There has been an increase year on year, so it’s easy to imagine this figure is even greater here and now in the summer of 2022. According to Stonewall, 1% of the population might identify as trans, including those who identify as non-binary. The reason we don’t know if this is an accurate statistic is because we await the most recent census results, which for the first time ever included a question about trans identity.
Could this 4% be representative of the makeup of your club?
Despite such large numbers of LGBTQ+ identities in the general population, many people don’t feel like they fully understand all of the definitions, ways of respectfully communicating with the LGBTQ+ community, or how to ensure their clubs and organisations are as inclusive as they can be.
But in fact, you have a responsibility to make a change in the sport you love, both on and off the pitch. It’s about doing it with integrity, not just to show how ‘woke’ your organisation/company is. Lead by example and the rest will follow. Stonewall reports that 20% of sport fans think anti-LGBTQ+ language is harmless if it’s just meant as banter (ICM, 2020). So it’s no wonder that 43% of LGBTQ+ people feel that public sporting events aren’t a welcoming space for them (YouGov for Stonewall, 2017).
Horrifyingly, 80% of 9,500 people surveyed by Out on the Fields report have witnessed or experienced homophobic behaviour in sport. Finally, to hammer home the message, 81% gay and 74% lesbian young players are partially-completely in the closet, for fear of discrimination. It’s also worth noting that people of LGBTQ or other marginalised communities may be experiencing mental health issues more than others.
Defining LGBTQ+, redefining inclusion
eCoach has teamed up with Richard Morris, British racing driver and co-founder of Racing Pride (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights charity working in the motorsport industry), to bring you their latest Accelerate Sport online learning course, LGBTQ+ Inclusion in Your Sport.
LGBTQ+ Inclusion in Your Sport is available to purchase now for a 25% discount – and you’ll be given all of the background information and case studies you need, as well as how to make your team more inclusive for anyone who identifies as anything but heterosexual and heteronormative. We’re talking about gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, transexual, queer, questioning, pansexual, Two-Spirit, intersex, asexual and more… even their allies! You’ll come away feeling more confident in tackling conversations about inclusivity, and have a go at building and implementing an LGBTQ+ inclusion strategy that goes beyond hearsay.
We want you to come away feeling empowered to identify barriers to inclusion and instigate real change in your sport. It’s vital that you understand how to create a safe space; free from prejudice, bullying, stereotyping and alienation.
Generate the next generation of role models
According to an Out in Sport survey (2019), 33% of LGBTQ+ people who participate and follow sport are not out to anyone in their sporting life. Olympic runner Dame Kelly Holmes was recently stunned by the vastness of support she received after coming out as gay at the age of 52. She said: “The response has been truly overwhelming. I never ever visualised this positivity and support.”
From track to pool, Welsh distance swimming champion, Dan Jervis, has also recently declared how happy he is to be a role model for the LGBTQ community by also announcing his sexuality, and is proud that he can be like those have been for him on BBC’s LGBT Sport Podcast. Diver Tom Daley’s fury over the world governing body for swimming, Fina’s, decision to not allow trans athletes to compete in women’s competitions if they have gone through any part of the process of male puberty.
We need more role models to make like Stonewall’s ‘Lace Up, Speak Up’ Rainbow Laces campaign and not stand by in silence any longer while homophobic, biphobic, transphobic and acephobic (anti-asexual) behaviour is still taking place in sport. And all we need to kick it off is honest, clear and supportive conversation.
Queer athlete and Sports Engagement Manager, Erin Williams, couldn’t have put it better when she said for Stonewall: “We want everyone – athletes, clubs, individuals, gyms, pools, dance groups, schools, and uni teams – to take your commitment to inclusion even further, and have conversations about what you can do to make your spaces truly inclusive and welcoming for all LGBTQ+ people.”
Will you go not the extra mile but actually the very first mile to make your sport as inclusive as you can and be proud of the role models you create from your club? Getting started is easy – take this short but detailed eLearning course, and we’ll show you the rest. What follows is exciting stuff indeed. Review your policies and codes of conduct, train your team, raise visibility of LGBTQ+ in your sport, celebrate the diversity, attract and recognise talent, and call out and report abusive behaviour.
You can learn at your own pace, anywhere, any time and either take the course on its own, or as ‘blended’ learning including a follow up webinar with the course author to boot. After a quick assessment at the end, a certificate, and CPD points are available upon completion.
Don’t forget, like disability, not all sexual preferences and gender identities are visible; even if you think this topic isn’t relevant to your team, you might want to think again.
Written by Alexia Weeks