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Gay News : Publications : Issue 308 : Gay Men experience barrier in team sports participation

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Gay Men experience barrier in team sports participation

by our Editors in General , 12 april 2017

Homosexual men often feel a barrier in participating in team or contact sports such as football. This is revealed by a study on LGBTI's in sports by the Netherlands Institute for Social Research (SCP), which was published last March 9.

Once they are a member of a team, they generally do feel accepted. For lesbian and bisexual women, sexual orientation seems to be of less importance in sports behaviour than for gay men.

Homosexuality in Sports

Despite the fact that the vast majority of the Dutch population say they have no problem with homosexuality in sports, gay men seem to avoid sports that are considered ‘macho’ and team or contact sports (such as football), according to the SCP. They expect not to be accepted. Gay men who practice team sports on the whole do feel accepted in their team. From this, the SCP concludes that once gay men do join a ‘men's team,’ they generally do feel accepted, but that there is a barrier that stops them from becoming a member in the first place.

Diana van den Born, COC spokeswoman for Sports: “Gay men perceiving a high barrier does, of course, have its reasons. The fact that 'homo' or 'faggot' is often used as a term of abuse in athletic field makes that gay people feel less welcome. The same applies to anti-gay chants that still regularly be heard in the football stadiums.’ Van den Born also points out that there are few role models for gay sportsmen: Not even one top football-player is out of the closet in the Netherlands.”

Van den Born is positive about the fact that the sports federations KNVB (Dutch Football Association) and NBB (Dutch Basketball Association) have implemented an action plan to promote LHBTI acceptance in sports. She insists that the example of the KNVB and NBB is followed by other sports federations and associations.

Differences in Perceived Safety

The SCP study shows no difference in the degree to which heterosexual athletes or visitors and LGBT athletes or visitors have experienced misconduct in sports. This also applies to the extent to which they feel safe during and around sports and sports events. When these groups are itemised on gender it is revealed that gay and bisexual men feel safer during and around sports events than heterosexual men.

This is perhaps explained by the fact that heterosexual men more often engage in sports or visit more sports events that have more misconduct associated with them (for instance football). Lesbian and bisexual women significantly feel less safe than gay and bisexual men and heterosexual athletes (including heterosexual women).

The SCP study shows that sexual orientation in principle has no effect on the extent to which people engage in sport and exercise. It is true, however, that a quarter of transgender people do not engage in sports because of the fact they are transgender.

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In the New Issue of Gay News, 309, May 2017

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