Jon Varey, Physical Education and Sport Subject Advisor
Taking part in sport and activity is important for our physical and mental health. Current participation trends, as outlined in the latest Active Lives survey carried out by Sport England, show that although activity levels dropped during the pandemic, they are now starting to recover, which of course is great news. For some people though, there are real barriers to getting involved in sport.
Many factors affect the extent to which different groups take part in sport. These can include age, gender, religion and culture, cost, access and media coverage. This topic is covered across qualifications and is a real challenge that we must address if we are to get more people active and enjoying sport.
Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT+) people continue to face barriers to participating in sport and physical activity, including bullying, discriminatory language and gender stereotypes. This has a negative effect on the numbers of LGBT people taking part in sport.
Discrimination is a major factor that can affect participation in a wide range of sports. According to research by Stonewall, 72 per cent of football fans have heard homophobic abuse, and one in five 18 to 24-year-olds would be embarrassed if their favourite player came out. And did you know that young people are twice as likely to believe that anti-LGBT language is harmless if it’s just meant as “banter”?
According to research by Out for Sport in Scotland, 73% of LGBT+ respondents think homophobia and transphobia are barriers to people taking part in sport and physical activity and only 5% of people think enough is being done. And we know that people’s experiences at school can have a big impact on their confidence and their future lives.
Clearly, there is still work to be done to ensure all sports offer an inclusive and welcoming atmosphere.
What can teachers and schools do to encourage participation in sport by LGBT+ people? Fortunately, there are plenty of resources and organisations that can help.
Pride Sports works alongside national governing bodies, sports organisations, local authorities and grass roots clubs to make sure LGBT people can enjoy a wide range of sports. Their aim is to improve access to sport and activity while challenging homophobia.
Stonewall is a charity that campaigns for LGBT+ rights and equality in schools, workplaces and communities across Britain. They have a range of resources for teachers, including this useful toolkit on how to make sport and PE inclusive to all. Their tips include:
Positive role models can have a real influence and help break the barriers that restrict people from participating in sport and physical activity. High profile sports people such as Tom Daly, Nicola Adams, Gareth Thomas and Mel Reid are all examples of strong LGBT role models within the sporting world. Their stories have helped inspire young people and make people realise that LGBT people have a space in the world of sport.
Most recently, Blackpool football club player Jake Daniels became the first male professional player in the UK to come out as openly gay for 30 years. There was a lot of media interest and support, and we will now wait and see how this may impact on LGBT sports performers across the UK and the world.
Let’s hope this brave and positive declaration has a long-lasting effect and helps to continue to dismantle the barriers in place for LGBT people in sport.
If you have any questions, you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, call us on 01223 553998 or tweet us @OCR_PhysEd. You can also sign up to subject updates and receive information about resources and support.
Jon joined OCR as a PE and sport subject advisor in September 2021 having taught in a variety of secondary schools across the country for over 20 years gaining a wealth of experience and subject knowledge. During this time, he has set up, delivered, and assessed a wide range of courses within physical education and sport. In his spare time, he is a keen runner and enthusiastic mountain biker, enjoys attending sporting and music events when possible and walking his two whippets.