Published on November 13, 2012 | by Billie-Jade Thomas

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Gay students feel excluded from sports

Girls playing tennis

Many students hide their sexuality from their coaches [Flickr]

Two thirds of gay students feel excluded from taking part in sport at university, according to a new report issued by the National Union of Students.

Of the approximately 845 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students interviewed for the Out in Sport survey, one in seven (14.3 per cent) named homophobia as their main reason for not participating in sports at university.

Around 42 per cent said that they had been put off participating in sport as a result of negative experiences at school.

Whilst almost half of the students blamed the ‘alienating’ culture around sport for them not wanting to take part.

According to the report, only a third of the LGBT students at university take part in organised team sport.

Of the students surveyed who do play sport, more than a third said that they chose to hide their sexuality from their teammates and coaches, with the fear of verbal or physical abuse being one of the main reasons stated.

The most popular suggestion for improving inclusion of LGBT students in sport among those surveyed was to tackle the wider issue of homophobia in schools.

The report, which aims to “tackle homophobia and transphobia in sport”, was published by the NUS as part of its ‘Out in Sport’ campaign.

“I have never seen examples of homophobia, or for that matter, seen any behaviour from our sports clubs to suggest an intimidating environment.” Benedict Butterworth 

The campaign has been backed by gay sports stars including former Wales rugby union player Gareth Thomas and Surrey and England cricketer Stephen Davies.

As a result of the report, the NUS has urged student unions to ensure that sports facilities, teams and staff are LGBT-friendly.

The report also encourages schools to teach LGBT inclusiveness in sports and recommends that sports teams publicly demonstrate their inclusiveness and make it clear that they will not tolerate abuse.

Speaking to Arts London News, UAL’s activities and volunteering officer Benedict Butterworth said:

“I have never seen examples of homophobia, or for that matter, seen any behaviour from our sports clubs to suggest an intimidating environment for a non-straight student.

“We work very closely with our sports committees to ensure they are aware of the participation barriers in university sport and that they try to the best of their ability to make their activities safe, friendly and welcoming environments for our student body.”

 

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