A new study, released on Wednesday by the Trevor Project, has found only 1 in 3 young LGBTQ+ people in the US participate in sports, with many avoiding group sports due to the fear of not being accepted. In comparison, over half (68%) of straight, cisgender youth reported being involved with sports, with 18% of all those who do participate saying they had heard negative things about LGBTQ+ people from a sports leader or coach.
Many LGBTQ+ respondents cited fear as their reason for not participating in sporting activities, with one young person saying: “I’m scared I will be harassed because of my sexuality.” Another said that they are afraid to use changing facilities due to lesbophobia: “Girls in my class don’t want me to change in the locker room with them because they think I’ll stare at them/hit on them because I’m lesbian.”
Many trans and gender non-conforming participants reported being unable to participate in school sports due to discriminatory policies that prevent trans inclusion. One respondent explained: “I probably wouldn’t be allowed onto the boys’ team because I’m a trans boy (both parents and school won’t allow this), and even if I was allowed I’d be at a huge risk of bullying.” Other reasons for LGBTQ+ youth not participating in sports included a lack of interest, financial restrictions and health conditions.
The study concluded: “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.” It also noted that policies seeking to prevent trans participation in 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.”