More than 30 studies have found sport organisations and governments largely ignore discrimination experienced by LGBTQ+ people in sport
Over the last two decades dozens of academic studies have found strong resistance and little progress in stopping the discrimination that LGBTQ+ children and adults experience in sport.
The LGBTQ+ community has been going in circles on this issue for years.
There are many people in the sport sector who want to do the right thing, but may be unaware of everything done in the past. This means the same ineffective approaches have been repeated.
For example, we have had peer-reviewed scientific evidence for at least a decade that the policies in sport that ban homophobic behaviours are ineffective and need to be completely redesigned. They are complaint-based, which means a child would have to file a formal complaint about their teammates using homophobic banter. The policies also often only prohibit language motivated by hate, whereas this language is used constantly in sport and generally used to conform to social norms.
We created this list of resources to help break this cycle.
List of Research
Baird JA (2002) Playing it straight: an analysis of current legal protections to combat homophobia and sexual orientation discrimination in intercollegiate athletics. Berkeley Women’s Law Journal 17. University of California School of Law: 31.
Brackenridge C, Aldred P, Jarvis A, et al. (2008) Literature review of sexual orientation in sport. Sport England. Available at: https://www.sportengland.org/media/3432/so-summary-final1.pdf (accessed 18 April 2019).
Bury J (2015) Non-performing inclusion: A critique of the english football association’s action plan on homophobia in football. International Review for the Sociology of Sport 50(2): 211–226.
Caudwell J (2011) ‘Does your boyfriend know you’re here?’ The spatiality of homophobia in men’s football culture in the UK. Leisure Studies 30(2): 123–138. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02614367.2010.541481.
Cunningham GB (2015) LGBT inclusive athletic departments as agents of social change. Journal of Intercollegiate Sport 8(1): 43–56. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1123/jis.2014-0131.
Denison E, Bevan N and Jeanes R (2020) Reviewing evidence of LGBTQ+ discrimination and exclusion in sport. Sport Management Review (In Press).
Fletcher G (2015) Does talking about sexuality change the game? A review of processes to promote the inclusion of LGBT people in sport. Melbourne, Australia: Victoria Health Promotion Foundation. Available at: https://www.academia.edu/3068967/Fair_Go_Sport_A_Work_in_Progress (accessed 8 April 2017).
Gardiner S and Riches L (2016) Racism and homophobia in English football: The equality act, positive action and the limits of law. International Journal of Discrimination and the Law 16(2–3): 102–121. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1358229116655648.
Gregory A (2004) Rethinking homophobia in sports: Legal protections for gay and lesbian athletes and coaches. DePaul Journal of Sports Law 2(2): 264.
Heraux C (2019) Homophobia in sport: who can play? In: Kiuchi Y (ed.) Playing on an Uneven Field: Essays on Exclusion and Inclusion in Sports. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc., pp. 55–77. Available at: https://www.worldcat.org/title/playing-on-an-uneven-field-essays-on-exclusion-and-inclusion-in-sports/oclc/1103319981.
Hughson J and Free M (2011) Football’s ‘coming out’: soccer and homophobia in England’s tabloid press. Media international Australia incorporating culture and policy 140.
Jeanes R, Denison E, Bevan N, et al. (2019) LGBTI+ inclusion within Victorian sport: A market analysis. Available at: https://research.monash.edu/en/publications/lgbti-inclusion-within-victorian-sport-a-market-analysis (accessed 22 January 2020).
Keane B (2013) European Court of Justice holds football clubs responsible for homophobic remarks of associates in Accept judgment. Sports Law Administration & Practice 20(3): 1–3.
Kerr G, Kidd B and Donnelly P (2020) One step forward, two steps back: the struggle for child protection in Canadian sport. Social Sciences 9(5): 68. DOI: 10.3390/socsci9050068.
Lusted J (2017) Understanding the varied responses to calls for a ‘Rooney Rule’ in English Football. In: Kilvington D and Price J (eds) Sport and Discrimination. First edition. Routledge Research in Sport, Culture and Society 72. London ; New York: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group, pp. 44–57.
Magrath R and Stott P (2019) ‘Impossible to implement?’: The effectiveness of anti-homophobia policy in English professional football. International Journal of Sport Policy and Politics 11(1). Routledge: 19–38. DOI: 10.1080/19406940.2018.1479284.
Marivoet S (2014) Challenge of sport towards social inclusion and awareness-raising against any discrimination. Physical Culture and Sport. Studies and Research 63(1): 3–11. DOI: 10.2478/pcssr-2014-0017.
Mortazavi SM (2017) Elimination of the locker room closet: analysis of current laws and professional sports leagues’ policies toward gay athletes. Journal of Civil Rights and Economic Development 28(4). Available at: https://scholarship.law.stjohns.edu/jcred/vol28/iss4/4.
Mumcu C and Lough N (2017) Are fans proud of the WNBA’s ‘pride’ campaign? Sport Marketing Quarterly 26(1): 42–54. DOI: https://digitalcommons.newhaven.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1004&context=sportmanagement-facpubs.
Oliver P and Lusted J (2015) Discrimination cases in grass-roots sport: comparing Australian and English experiences. Sport in Society 18(5): 529–542. DOI: 10.1080/17430437.2014.976003.
Parry KD, Storr R, Kavanagh EJ, et al. (2021) Conceptualising organisational cultural lag: Marriage equality and Australian sport. Journal of Sociology: 144078332199165. DOI: 10.1177/1440783321991653.
Phipps C (2020) “We already do enough around equality and diversity”: Action taken by student union officers to promote LGBT+ inclusion in university sport. Sociology of Sport Journal: 1–9. DOI: 10.1123/ssj.2019-0119.
Preston SJ, Gregg M and Mendelson L (2013) A new era: understanding the legal rights of homosexual players in professional sports. Westlaw Journal 25(8): 11–14.
Riches L (2013) Gay footballers should not be ‘outed’ in order to prove that discrimination has not taken place. Sport & Law Journal 21(1): 18–21.
Robertson J, Storr R, Bakos A, et al. (2019) ‘My ideal is where it is just jane the cricketer, rather than jane the gay cricketer’: An institutional perspective of lesbian inclusion in Australian cricket. Journal of Sport Management 33(5): 393–405. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1123/jsm.2018-0371.
Seear K and Elphick L (2020) Human rights, gender and sport: lessons from australian rules football. ID 3402228, SSRN Scholarly Paper. Rochester, NY: Social Science Research Network. Available at: https://papers.ssrn.com/abstract=3402228 (accessed 22 May 2021).
Shaw S (2019) The chaos of inclusion? Examining anti-homophobia policy development in New Zealand sport. Sport Management Review 22(2). Elsevier: 247–262. DOI: 10.1016/J.SMR.2018.04.001.
Spaaij R, Lusher D, Jeanes R, et al. (2019) Participation-performance tension and gender affect recreational sports clubs’ engagement with children and young people with diverse backgrounds and abilities. PLOS ONE Capraro V (ed.) 14(4): e0214537. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0214537.
Spaaij R, Knoppers A and Jeanes R (2019) “We want more diversity but…”: resisting diversity in recreational sports clubs. Sport Management Review. DOI: 10.1016/j.smr.2019.05.007.
Stefaniuk L and Bridel W (2018) Anti-bullying policies in Canadian sport: An absent presence. The Journal of Park and Recreation Administration 36(2): 160–176. DOI: 10.18666/JPRA-2018-V36-I2-8439.
Storr R (2020a) Commitment, resistance and indifference toward diversity amongst community cricket volunteers. Sport in Society 0(0). Routledge: 1–19. DOI: 10.1080/17430437.2020.1773432.
Storr R (2020b) “The poor cousin of inclusion”: Australian sporting organisations and LGBT+ diversity and inclusion. Sport Management Review: S1441352320301376. DOI: 10.1016/j.smr.2020.05.001.
Storr R, Parry KD and Kavanagh E (2018) “We are a sport for all Australian’s”: exploring the non-performativity of institutional speech acts around LGBTI+ diversity in Australian sporting organisations. In: Conference paper presented at European Association for Sociology of Sport Conference: Sport, Discriminations and Inclusion: Challenges to Face, Bordeaux, France, 2018, pp. 67–67. Available at: https://researchdirect.westernsydney.edu.au/islandora/object/uws:46833/ (accessed 1 March 2019).
Theriault D (2017) Implementation of promising practices for LGBTQ inclusion: a multilevel process. Journal of Park & Recreation Administration 35(3): 123–135.
Williams C (2007) Sexual orientation harassment and discrimination: Legal protection for student-athletes. Journal of Legal Aspects of Sport 17(2): 253–283.