Most LGBTQ Teen Athletes Remain Closeted Fearing Bullying

Majority of queer athletes stay closeted

A new report published by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) foundation and the University of Connecticut revealed interesting news: most LGBTQ teen athletes are closeted.

Specifically, nearly 80% percent of gay, lesbian, bisexual and queer teen athletes are choosing to hide their sexuality from coaches. Trans youth is slightly higher at 82%.

The research study surveyed more than 12,000 teens spread across the United States between the ages of 13 and 17 who voluntarily took part in HRC’s 2017 online LGBT+ Teen Survey.

Investigators decided to focus on the unique experiences of LGBT+ youth athletes because of the positive social, psychological and physiological benefits of engaging in physical activities that teens may not experience due to lack of acceptance.

According to the results, only 24 percent of the participants say they play a school sport, compared to 68 percent of a national non-LGBT+ sample—that percentage of sports participation drops to 14 percent for non-binary youth and transgender boys and 12 percent for transgender girls.

“Sports are a transformative way for students to build social skills and community, but when too many LGBTQ student-athletes are blocked from being their true selves—we fail them. Coaches and administrators must do more to make every court, field, track and mat a welcoming place for all,” Ashland Johnson, HRC director of public education and research, said in a statement about the study.

male rape lockerroom
Locker room behaviors are a barrier

The study revealed that one of the main issues roadblocking queer teen athletes from fully expressing themselves is the locker room environment.

“I don’t feel safe in the locker room” one participant said; a sentiment shared by 41 percent of transgender males, 34 percent of transgender females and 31 percent of the non-binary youth surveyed. “I was bullied for being transgender,” another anonymous respondent said.

More: Teen football players force oral in locker-room

There are other issues contributing to the dynamic as well. One is the widespread use of hate-speak, such as the use of the word “gay” in a derogatory manner. “The guys on sports team… call everything they don’t like ‘gay’,” one of the study participants was quoted as saying.

“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 said.

Here’s what Jason Collins, a former NBA player who came out as a gay man Sports Illustrated in 2013, said about the research on Twitter.

“Sports are for everyone, including #LGBTQ youth,” Collins, whose coming out represented a landmark moment in LGBT+ acceptance in sports as he was the first active male athlete in a major US professional team sport to do so, wrote in his tweet. “This data provides a unique opportunity to make sports more inclusive for all athlete,” he added.

h/t: Pink News