LGBT discrimination in sport highlighted after a week in the headlines

LGBT discrimination in sport highlighted after a week in the headlines

LGBT discrimination in sport highlighted after a week in the headlines  In a week when issues of gender and sexuality in sport have been in the spotlight, new research has found many LGBT athletes feel unsafe and vulnerable — but attitudes are changing.    The study, by Adelaide’s Flinders University, found that almost 40 per cent of respondents who participate in sports “have felt unsafe or vulnerable in a sporting environment as a result of their gender identification or sexuality”. “[But] when they actually went to the club and immersed themselves in the culture — generally the clubs were quite good. “The majority were quite open and welcoming.”‘They fear the judgment’ Non-binary athlete Bowie Stover knows what it is like to be vulnerable on the sporting field. Stover is the outreach and events manager with Proud2Play, an organisation promoting inclusion in sport, and has also experienced discrimination while playing team sports. “There’s a lot of homophobia … I am non-binary, I’ve spent a lot of times playing team sports identifying as a cislesbian and in that space I felt quite uncomfortable,” Stover said. “I come from regional Queensland so it’s a much more conservative and limited environment up there when it comes to inclusion.” The Flinders research focused on inclusion issues at sporting clubs and surveyed 150 athletes across 39 sports including football, rugby, soccer, swimming, tennis, cricket, softball and golf. In Stover’s experience, constant rumours and snide remarks created an environment of anxiety and exclusion.    “Just those little comments that I would always hear, judgmental,” Stover said. “I found that quite challenging to the point where I actually stepped away from team sports because I don’t feel I fit within a women’s space. The research developed a series of recommendations for improvements for clubs and coaching staff — including the creation of an online education portal. “Historically sport has been largely driven by men,” Professor Drummond said. “The more people we get in from diverse communities, and diverse sexualities and genders, the better it will be.”Week of topic in the spotlight Australian cricketer James Faulkner received support from peers after his social media post implying he was in a same-sex relationship with his housemate. Faulkner later clarified the man he described as his “boyfriend” of five years was not his partner — an admission that prompted a backlash from some. On the global stage, South African Olympic champion Caster Semenya lost an appeal against rules designed to lower testosterone levels in some female runners. “For a decade the IAAF has tried to slow me down, but this has actually made me stronger,” Semenya said. “I will once again rise above and continue to inspire young women and athletes in South Africa and around the world.”