Public health officials and scholars call for urgent action to address large disparities in sport participation rates between gay and bisexual boys and their peers

Ground-breaking data by public health researchers at the University of British Columbia has found gay and bisexual boys play team sports at half the rates of their heterosexual peers. Similar disparities in sport participation and physical activity rates have also been found by American and British large-scale population studies with high school students.

Serious concerns about mental health impacts

Politicians who conducted the recent UK Parliamentary Inquiry into homophobia in sport found the discrimination that gay and bisexual boys experience and the continued use of homophobic banter and language in youth sport was deterring many from participation.

We have serious concerns over the effects of low participation among LGB youth on their mental and physical health and well-being and we note that, in the long-term, it is very likely that a number of sports have been robbed of talent by the fact that promising young players have not felt accepted or supported in the sport they play. It appears that young players and athletes sometimes feel that they have to make the active choice between either coming out or continuing to participate in their chosen sport. As a result, players and athletes either drop out of sport together or, as has been the case with some professional sportspeople, they wait until after retirement to come out.

American public health researchers who reviewed all research conducted on this issue arrived at a similar conclusion and described the impacts of discrimination on gay and bisexual boys as a “critical public health issue.”

There is ample data to suggest the prejudicial nature (of sport environments) can serve as a deterrent for athletic participation for gay males, in particular, as this population appears to be targeted harshly.