Understanding LGB Sport Participation

I have already identified a lack of gay role models within the sporting world in an earlier post. With this in mind I have decided to research into why the numbers of lesbian, gay & bisexual (LGB) people are so low within sports. There may be either a lack of participation from the LGB community or gay sports people just might not feel comfortable revealing there sexuality, for reasons I mentioned in my earlier post “Homosexuality In Sport”.

In 2012 Stonewall, a leading charity for the LGB community, produced a report titled “Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual (LGB) People in Sport: Understanding LGB sports participation in Wales”. The report identifies that sport is an influential part of our culture and so it is therefore important to try and understand how LGB people take part in sport or in some cases why they choose not to participate at all. This report aims to find out about LGB’s involvement by gathering views from this community on how they perceive sport.

It appears that schools have played a large part in shaping the participants views of sport, those that have experienced negative experiences in school sports say that this has affected the way they view sports later on in life. Those who had negative experiences said they were often a target of abuse and exclusion. One of the reasons believed for this exclusion was because they didn’t conform to typical expectations of other boys and girls.

“Participants told us that they feel sport reinforces rigid ideas of both gender and sexual orientation.” – Reasons for thinking this are that stereotypes of genders in relation to sport are internalized at a young age. For example boys are expected to play certain sports, such as rugby because it is “macho” and therefore fulfills this notion that boys are meant to be masculine. Whereas girls are discouraged from playing these more “macho” sports (such as rugby) because it doesn’t match the feminine expectations of being a girl. Participants of this report also made direct associations between certain sports like football and rugby, with being both “masculine” and for “straight men”.

Taking the views from the participants into consideration we can conclude from this report, that sport reinforces rigid notions of gender and sport. But stonewall believe these issues can be tackled, by having…

“A more diverse experience of sport at a young age could challenge existing stereotypes and encourage a broader range of people to play sport”

and…

“Their participation could be increased if there were a stronger presence of LGB role models in grassroots and high-profile sports”

We already know that there is a lack of role models within sports, for example only 0.16% of athletes in the London Olympics were openly gay.  But this report appears to identify certain sports as reinforcing these rigid notions of gender, such as football. I am therefore going to look into the current state of football and the presence of gay role models within the sport.

 

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