Closeted while playing.
A report found that 80% of lesbian, gay and bisexual athletes, and 82% of trans athletes kept their identity hidden from their coaches. Eleven percent of LGBT young people reported they never felt safe in a locker room. For those who are not cisgender, that percentage jumps to over 30%.
This is according to “Play to Win: Improving the Lives of LGBTQ Youth in Sports”, which analyzed the responses to sports-related questions in HRC’s online 2017 LGBTQ Teen Survey, taken by more than 12,000 people ages 13 to 17 within the US.
The report revealed that many LGBT athletes were not out to their coaches, a smaller percentage of LGBT individuals play sports than their non-LGBT peers, and some LGBT young people do not play a sport at all for fear of an unaccepting environment. Seventy-six percent of LGBT respondents said they refrain from athletic competition, compared to 32% of non-LGBT people.
According to Ashland Johnson, HRC Foundation director of public education and research, sports are “a transformative way for students to build social skills and community.” However, “when too many LGBTQ student-athletes are blocked from being their true selves, we fail them.”
Respondents said experiences with homophobic and transphobic coaches and teammates were among the reasons they remained closeted. A transgender teen reported fear of being outed by a school’s decision regarding team placement for a gendered sport. Another respondent said, “I would need to prove my masculinity to my teammates – that isn’t worth how much I loved playing sports.”
“Coaches and administrators must do more to make every court, field, track and mat a welcoming place for all. When LGBTQ teens can be their true selves in athletics, it not only benefits that athlete, it benefits their team and community. This data is an important starting point to identifying ways schools can improve the experiences of their LGBTQ players,” Johnson ended.