A new study has revealed that fear of discrimination is prohibiting LGBTQ+ youth from participating in sport.
According to research released on 15 September by the Trevor Project, one in three LGBTQ+ young people said they participate in sports.
This is a stark difference from the more than 50% of America’s general population who said they do take part in sport.
Part of this is attributed to almost one in five (18%) LGBTQ+ youth who do get involved sharing that they have heard negative comments from athletic officials at their institutions in relation to transgender and queer people.
The locker room was found to be the biggest source of fear for LGBTQ+ athletes, with one respondent saying that those around her “think I’ll stare at them/hit on them because I’m lesbian.”
A second said: “The locker room was always a nightmare, the athletic kids at my school hated me, the coaches at my school hated me, and as much as I didn’t care for a lot of mainstream sports in general, I avoided athletic activities out of terror, not disinterest.”
Another explained that they “never hated sports, but I hated how I was treated by kids and adults who played sports.”
It was determined that trans and non-binary young people were at “huge risk of bullying” due to a lack of inclusiveness in sport making their involvement more complicated.
Only 16% of young LGBTQ+ sports participants said they had heard positive remarks about the community’s involvement in it from a sporting official.
“Camaraderie and personal wellness” were among the reasons cited by participants as to why sports have been good for them.
Physical and mental health were also seen as key reasons to get involved, as well as the chance to make new friends.
The Trevor Project emphasised the “need for policies and practices focused on expanding access to the positive benefits of sports” after publishing the data.
The organisation added: “No young person should be barred from the benefits of sports participation — friendship, fun, and stress relief — due to their sexual orientation or gender identity.
“Policies that seek to ban transgender youth from sports only serve to heighten experiences of stigma and reduce the ability of youth to receive the positive physical, social, and emotional benefits of sports.”
— The Trevor Project (@TrevorProject) September 17, 2021