Expert Panel

Seven internationally respected experts on homophobia and discrimination in sport, from six universities, played the critical role of ensuring this study was conducted to the highest possible standards of research. Each member of the panel had previously conducted their own research in this field, including Prof. Pat Griffin, who pioneered this area of study. Out on the Fields is not the first study conducted on this issue, but it is the first time that homophobia in sport has been studied internationally. Please see the Tools and Resources page for links to previous research.

While Out on the Fields is not an academic study, the panel of experts reviewed and approved the scope of research, study design (including questions), data collection methods and the contents of the final report. They ensured the study met standards of data collection and provided the level of analysis expected in academic settings. The final report includes the results of the detailed, expert analysis conducted on the raw data. The raw data and the analysis was then collated into a final report, written by two professional writers, one of which is a multi-award winning journalist. This is why Out on the Fields is called a study.

Members of the expert panel are available to provide public and media commentary and analysis on the results in their respective countries.

Professor Pat Griffin

University of Massachusetts, United States

Pat Griffin is Professor Emerita in Social Justice Education at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst where her research and writing interests were LGBT issues in education and athletics. She has been an advocate for LGBT equality in sport for over 30 years and is often referred to as the Grandmother of the LGBT sports advocacy movement in the United States. She is founding director for Changing the Game: The Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network (GLSEN) Sports Project. She is the former director of the Women’s Sports Foundation’s It Takes A Team project, an LGBT education project. She regularly consults with the NCAA and college and high school athletic departments on LGBT issues in sports. She is the author of Strong Women, Deep Closets: Lesbians and Homophobia in Sports, co-editor of Teaching For Diversity and Social Justice, and co-author of On The Team: Equal Opportunities for Transgender Student- Athletes, the NCAA Guide for the Inclusion of Transgender Athletes and co-author of Champions of Respect: the NCAA resource for the inclusion of LGBTQ student-athletes. Dr. Griffin played basketball, field hockey and swam at the University of Maryland College Park. She coached high school basketball, field hockey and softball in Montgomery County, MD and coached swimming and diving at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She won a bronze medal in the 1994 Gay Games Triathlon and a gold medal in the 1998 Gay Games Hammer Throw.

Dr. Sue Rankin

Pennsylvania State University (retired), United States

Dr. Susan Rankin is a retired Associate Professor in the Department of Education Policy Studies and Senior Research Associate in the Centre for the Study of Higher Education at the Pennsylvania State University. She has worked extensively with Professor Pat Griffin and is also one of the pioneers of research into homophobia in sport. She currently works with organisations assessing their inclusiveness with an emphasis on issues of social justice and diversity. She has published widely on the experience of gender and sexual diversity in colleges and universities and in 2010 published a national study titled the State of Higher Education for LGBT People. She is also the author of The Lives of Transgender People, a book based on a survey of nearly 3,500 self-identified transgender individuals — one of the largest studies involving transgendered people to have been conducted in the United States.

Professor Ian Rivers

Brunel University London, United Kingdom

Prof. Ian Rivers is Professor of Human Development and Head of the School of Sport and Education at Brunel University. He conducted the very first studies of homophobic bullying in the UK. He is a leading authority on the harms of homophobic and transphobic bullying on gender and sexuality diverse young people, and as a developmental psychologist has researched extensively the role and effects of bullying. Professor Rivers helped author the first ever literature review of sexual orientation in sport. Among other things it identified a strong need for large scale and international research. This finding was a key motivation for the Out on the Fields study. Prof. Rivers has published numerous articles in the areas of homosexuality and homophobia including ‘Coming out’, Context and Reason: First disclosure of sexual orientation and its consequences, and books such as Bullying: Experiences and discourses of sexuality and gender.

Assoc. Professor Caroline Symons

Victoria University, Australia

Assoc. Professor Caroline Symons is the Director of Learning and Teaching in the College of Sport and Exercise Science, Victoria University (Australia), research associate of the Institute of Sport, Exercise and Active Living (VU) and lecture’s in sport and recreation studies. She is the pioneering researcher of homophobia in sport in Australia, having written extensively on the history and progress of LGBTIQ sportspeople, and most recently was the lead researcher on the first comprehensive study of the sporting experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in Australia, entitled Come Out To Play. This groundbreaking study won a peak Australian health promotion award for knowledge and translation in 2010 and has proved a catalyst for policy change within sport and government. Professor Symons was also lead researcher on a more recent study concerning the impact of homophobic bullying in Australian school sport and Physical Education on same-sex attracted and gender diverse young people’s mental health and well-being (Equal Play, 2014). Caroline authored the award winning book: The Gay Games: A History (Routledge, 2010), which documented the social, political and organizational development of this major LGBTQ sporting event.

Professor Guylaine Demers

Laval University, Canada

Prof. Guylaine Demers is pioneer of homophobia in sport research in Canada and an expert on women and sexuality diverse people generally. Since being selected by the Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women in Sport and Physical Activity (CAAWS) to be part of a program designed to fight homophobia, Dr. Demers’ interests have been primarily focussed on the issue of homophobia in sport. Her publications on the issue include Homophobia in Sport – Fact of Life, Taboo Subject, and she has worked alongside Dr. Sandra Kirby on articles such as Vulnerability / Prevention: Considering the needs of disabled and LGBT athletes in the context of sexual harassment and abuse, as well as coauthored the book Playing it Forward: 50 years of Women and Sport in Canada.

Dr. Grant O’Sullivan

Victoria University, Australia

Dr Grant O’Sullivan was a research officer in the College of Sport and Exercise Science at Victoria University for most of the study. His work focuses on the inclusiveness of sporting environments, including physical education classes, for same-sex-attracted and gender diverse young people and adults. Recently he was involved in the Equal Play research project, which assessed the mental health impacts of homophobic bullying on same-sex attracted and gender diverse youth. He is a health psychologist and has extensive expertise in working with same-sex attracted and gender diverse communities. In his youth, he participated in both competitive gymnastics and track and field.

Dr. Sandra Kirby

University of Winnipeg, Canada

Dr. Sandra Kirby is Professor Emerita at the University of Winnipeg, and a leading academic in child safety and inclusion in sport. After representing Canada at the 1976 Olympic Games, Dr. Kirby turned to an academic career which has been dedicated to the eradication of harassment and homophobia in sport. Her work has included substantial research on child protection from harassment in sport, and has extended to partnerships with UNICEF and the International Olympic Committee. Dr. Kirby is the author or co-author of eleven books and more than thirty book chapters, reports and refereed articles. Recently, Dr. Kirby co-authored Playing it Forward: 50 years of Women and Sport in Canada, a look at the women’s sporting movement in Canada between 1960 and 2010.

The Study Authors

The study was conceptualised and then coordinated/managed by members of the Sydney Convicts Rugby Union Club who also were involved in the organising committee of the Bingham Cup Sydney 2014. Members of the club also compiled and wrote the content of the final report, using the data and analysis provided by Nielsen, members of the expert panel, and the study’s partners (e.g. The Australian Sports Commission). The final report was reviewed and approved by all members of the expert panel prior to release.

Erik Denison

Erik has been a member of the Sydney Convicts Rugby Union Club, Australia’s first gay rugby team, since 2009. Erik was born in Vancouver and worked at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation as a multi-award winning investigative and science/health journalist for ten years, prior to moving to Australia in 2009. He is currently completing his PhD at Monash University, in the Behavioural Sciences Laboratory, which is part of the School of Social and Political Sciences

Alistair Kitchen

Alistair has been a member of the Sydney Convicts since 2013. He recently completed his honours degree in English at The University of Sydney, where he was awarded the Convocation Medal for his academic performance and contributions to the community. He was selected and is currently studying as a Schwarzman Scholar, an international development program.