The Importance of LGBTQ+ Inclusive Sports Teams
Sports teams have been an integral part of our communities for generations. They have often been one of the few places that are truly inclusive and offer accessibility to everyone regardless of ability and background. For the LGBTQ+ community, however, often this isn’t the case; despite the fact that people from this community face the same challenges that the rest of us do.
Accessibility to Sports for the LGBTQ+ Community
It is hugely important for members of the LGBTQ+ community to be offered access to sports, just as much as it is for anyone else. Research has shown that members of this community are more likely to experience mental health issues due to the discrimination and lack of acceptance they face; as a result, it is even more important for them to experience an activity that relieves stress and contributes to physical health. According to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, LGBT youth are nearly twice as likely to experience physical violence, compared to non-LGBT youth.
Benefits of Inclusion
Inclusive sports teams not only provide physical benefits, but they also provide emotional support to LGBTQ+ members, which is often sorely lacking elsewhere in society. Studies have also shown that inclusion can lead to better physical health among members of the LGBTQ+ community, as well as improved mental health and overall wellbeing.
The presence of an inclusive environment can also help to boost acceptance and understanding of the community among the public. This is because these teams provide a great opportunity for people to discover the talents and abilities of LGBTQ+ individuals, as well as a platform for them to share their stories and experiences.
Making a Change
Sports clubs and organizations are uniquely placed to make the necessary changes to their structures and policies in order to make them more inclusive. Some of the steps they can take include:
- Creating policies that explicitly state that discrimination and harassment of any kind will not be tolerated.
- Providing a safe space for members and ensuring that everyone on the team knows how to use that space and how to properly support members.
- Making sure that team rules, regulations, and expectations are communicated in an open and respectful manner.
- Encouraging all team members to be allies to their LGBTQ+ teammates and speak up if they witness instances of discrimination or unfair treatment.
- Making sure that transgender, nonbinary, and gender-nonconforming individuals are able to join and play on teams without any hassle or judgment.
- Creating gender-neutral bathrooms and changing rooms.
Sports can open up a world of possibility and joy to everyone, regardless of their background or gender identity. The key to ensuring that the LGBTQ+ community can reap the benefits of playing sports is to make sure that teams are inclusive and welcoming of everyone, regardless of gender identity, sexuality, or physical ability. Through these steps, teams can create an environment where everyone is equal, accepted, and respected.