Sport has the power to bring people from all walks of life together. It can bring out the best in us all - Making us feel passionate, motivated, and united. Everyone deserves the opportunity to take part and enjoy sporting activities. However, not everyone gets this chance. Homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia have no place in sport. But it's still there.
In 2020, it was found that a majority of LGBTQ+ people felt isolated in sport. Two-thirds of LGBTQ+ youth have NEVER taken part in any form of school or community sports. The third that did, report hearing team members of coaches saying negative things about LGBTQ+ people. The majority identified that they were uncomfortable approaching their coaches for support.
Because of this, many young people must make the trade-off between taking part in sports and being their authentic selves on the pitch. So, what can we do to support LGBTQ+ sportspeople? We can be good allies to them.
For the LGBTQ+ community, an ally is a straight and/or cisgender person who supports and advocates for LGBTQ people. Here are some handy tips that can make sure that you are a good ally to the LGBTQ+ community.
- Watch your language
Slurs, homophobic jokes, harmful stereotypes. They aren't just a bit of changing room banter. They are abuse. Even if there isn't an LGBTQ+ person in the room to hear them, they reinforce negative stereotypes and strengthen barriers that keep the sporting landscape from being an inclusive space.
- Speak up
It's not enough to not be homophobic yourself. Call other people out when you see homophobic or discriminatory behavior. It can be anything from politely educating a teammate on homophobic language to reporting abuse you have witnessed to the police. You can't just leave it up to LGBTQ+ people to do this. As an ally, you need to work with them to end discriminatory behavior.
- Celebrate LGBTQ+ achievement in sport
Allies need to uplift LGBTQ+ people throughout the year, not just when they are facing discrimination. It can be as easy as sharing LGBTQ+ success stories or interviews on your social media. A little goes a long way!
Make sure you check in with your LGBTQ+ team members and ask how they want to be supported on and off the pitch. Everyone is different. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to making your LGBT teammates feel comfortable. Just ask!
- Get educated
It's okay to feel out of your depth or uneducated about LGBTQ+ issues – so long as you do something about it. There are tons of great resources out there to learn about the realities, challenges, and issues affecting the lives of people who are LGBTQ+. We recommend:
- Show Off Your Allyship
Visually showing your teammates that you are an LGBTQ+ ally is an excellent way to let them know that you support them. That is why Street League is supporting Stonewall UK's Rainbow Laces campaign. The campaign aims to raise awareness for LGBTQ+ inclusion within sports and reduce the stigma faced by LGBTQ+ people when playing and watching sport. Get yourself a pair of rainbow laces today and let everyone know that you are a proud ally of the LGBTQ+ community.