Silence erected into a system
Team sports do not have a reputation for being welcoming to LGBT people. The sports system has developed on the presumption of heterosexuality of all. On the surface, this seems true: very few LGBT people are known on professional teams. In team sports, we behave as if homosexuality does not exist.
Individual sports offer greater flexibility for athletes who want to reveal their sexual orientation without compromising their careers. Even if the system is less restrictive and athletes are judged only on performance, it still takes a lot of courage and determination to come out. In fact, some fear losing their sponsors and the support of their fans.
Changing in the locker rooms
In the world of sport, going to the locker room is the rule and the first awareness of taboos related to sexuality. Many LGBT people have negative experiences with this exposure, and learn about teasing and homophobia and transphobia.
Fight against silence
The fight against prejudice is all of society's business. All are invited to break the silence that surrounds the issue of sexual orientation and gender identity in sport, by speaking:
of the silence of those who are targets of jokes and mockery because of their orientation or gender identity;
of silence surrounding the moral injuries inflicted on LGBT people resulting from their exclusion;
of silence on the obligation to hide one's sexual orientation in the world of sport;
of the silence of athletes who always deny the existence of the realities of sexual and gender minorities;
of media silence about sexual orientation in sport;
of media silence on trans male athletes.
of the silence of athletes who do not react to comments, attitudes and homophobic and transphobic behaviors they witness.
Did you know ?
In a 2014 study in 6 English-speaking countries including the US, Canada and the UK, 44% of adult gay men said they were hiding their orientation for fear of being rejected by their teammates.
Talk about silence
Like all of society, sport has been built on values from an era when homosexuality was prohibited and condemned. Combating homophobia requires a collective effort by all stakeholders in the world of sport. Talking about the silence around sexual diversity in sport is a responsibility of all stakeholders.
Young people who participate in sports must be able to count on the support of their environment where sexual diversity is respected.
Sponsors of sports competitions
Sponsors and advertisers associated with sports are encouraged to include sexual diversity in their communications.
Professional sport occupies a high social standing, receives media attention, arouses enthusiasm among fans and sets an example to follow. All sports organizations should adopt a policy against homophobia and transphobia.
Sports enjoys a lot of media coverage. A huge responsibility falls on all those who work in the media, especially sports media. They must break the silence of sexual diversity.
Sports fans should not tolerate discrimination against sportsmen and women on the basis of sexual orientation, expression or gender identity.
If you hear homophobic or transphobic comments, all you have to do is oppose them.
Athletes from sexual and gender minorities must persevere in the practice of their sport and not give up their hope of a career in the world of sport.
It is also important for allied sportsmen and women to speak out and set a good example.
According to our survey, carried out in 2010:
78% of Quebecers and 72% of other Canadians find that in sport, the issue of homosexuality is kept silent. Only 14% of Canadians disagreed.
1 in 5 Canadians think that knowing the sexuality of an athlete would influence the public's appreciation of that athlete in a negative way
1/3 of Canadians think that gay athletes do not have a chance to succeed in their careers comparably to heterosexual athletes.
61% of respondents agree that the world of sport is unwelcoming for gay men and 45% think it is unwelcoming for lesbians.
In 2010, Canadian society didn't seem ready for a gay athlete
Locker rooms and showers
The sometimes toxic atmosphere in locker rooms makes locker rooms and showers often unsafe spaces for trans people. Installing non-gendered rooms or individual cubicles for changing and showering would make the sport environment more welcoming to trans people and many other people.
Legitimacy and competition
Sports fans should not tolerate discrimination against sportsmen and women on the basis of their gender expression or gender identity.
Even today, trans women athletes are suspected of "cheating" while trans men athletes remain in the shadows.
Trans people are often excluded or face significant difficulties in accessing competitive sporting opportunities. Whether it is when joining a federation, registering for a competition, or accessing insurance and health services, the non-inclusiveness of policies of most organizations remains problematic.