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Out for Sport: The Facts

Out for Sport Summary Report

Key Attitudinal findings:

  • Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) people continue to face homophobia, biphobia, transphobia and other barriers to participating in sport, and to a lesser extent in other physical activity. This has a negative impact on the numbers of LGBT people taking part in sport.
  • While sports bodies are content to take positive action around equality in general there appears to be hesitancy on taking action related to sexual orientation or gender identity.
  • Homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying continues to be a major problem. The use of the word “gay” to mean something that is negative is endemic within school sports environments. This often goes unchallenged by teachers or coaches and affects both LGBT and non-LGBT people.
  • There is a tendency for Scottish Governing Bodies (SGBs) to assume a tick box approach to the Equality Standard for Sport (the Standard) process as it impacts on LGBT people. Organisations can currently acquire a level of the Standard without addressing any specific issues around LGBT participation.
  • There remains a lack of understanding and awareness of key pieces of legislation affecting LGBT people. These include the Equality Act 2010, the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act 2012 and the Offences (Aggravation by Prejudice) (Scotland) Act 2009.

Key Positive findings:

  • Little or no specific action is currently being taken by the Scottish Government and Scottish sports bodies in terms of tackling homophobia, biphobia or transphobia, or increasing LGBT participation in sport. Sportscotland, SGBs, local authorities and clubs are all looking to the Scottish Government for clear leadership on this issue.
  • There remains a significant disconnect between the aspirations of high level equality policies and legislation and the experience of sport services for LGBT people on the ground.
  • Within SGBs, local authorities and grassroots club provision, there continues to be a hierarchy of equality provision within which LGBT participation is largely ignored. This is due to a number of reasons including:
    • lack of available participation data.
    • work on other equality issues being prioritised within organisations.
    • failure to accept that barriers to LGBT participation exist.
    • risk averse positions taken by organisations and individuals due to reactions or potential reactions from parents, club members or spectators.
  • LGBT young people remain a group with particular needs. Present arrangements around club accreditation and the protection of vulnerable groups can leave teenage LGBT people in positions where it is difficult to access specific LGBT sporting opportunities.
  • The particular sports needs of Scotland’s transgender community, for example, in terms of changing facilities, continue to be misunderstood and sidelined. Few SGBs seem to have policies in place covering the issue of transgender people taking part in competition.
  • The recommendations of the 2008 Literature Review of Sexual Orientation in Sport  have not been acted upon in any systematic way. The UK Government’s Sports Charter to Tackle Homophobia and Transphobia in Sport was generally viewed as a positive action. Of the 3,300 sporting bodies and individuals who have signed it only 3 bodies were from Scotland.
  • There are few examples of best practice in the delivery of LGBT sport and physical activity participation and no evidence of best practice being shared.
  • Hundreds, if not thousands, of LGBT people are taking part in sport and physical activity on a regular basis within LGBT branded clubs, teams and groups. Their experience of sport in those settings is overwhelmingly positive.
  • Unquantifiable numbers of LGBT people are also taking part in sport and physical activity within mainstream sports clubs, teams and groups. However, a high percentage of those people are not open about their sexual orientation or gender identity within those sports environments. Whilst there are no openly LGBT footballers in the Scottish Premier League there are a number of openly LGBT elite athletes playing in other sports, particularly within women’s sport.
  • Partly as a result of engagement with the Out for Sport project, there are positive signs that some sports bodies and partners are willing to take action to improve the culture and practice of Scottish sport as it impacts on LGBT people.
  • The Scottish Government has recently funded national LGBT organisations to carry out work in the sports sector. They have also funded the newly constituted LEAP Sports which will act as a support body to Scotland’s LGBT sports teams, clubs and physical activity groups.
  • There are opportunities to work with partners on significant pieces of on-going work to make sure that LGBT people’s requirements are addressed. These include:
    • sportscotland’s work around refreshing of the Equality Standard and the roll out of the Positive Coaching Scotland programme.
    • Children First and NSPCC’s continuing work into sidelining bad and abusive behaviour in sport.
    • work with Scottish Student Sport on links between University sports and LGBT societies and on campaigns to raise awareness.
    • work with the Commonwealth Games Organising Committee around equality issues for the 2014 Games.
  • Each and every one of the sports sector bodies and Scottish Government representatives interviewed were committed to the full inclusion of LGBT people in Scottish sport, and to taking positive steps to remove any barriers to full and active participation, where necessary.