LGTBQ youth in sports still mostly closeted

Although there is a rising profile for gay, lesbian, transgender, and queer youth playing competitive sports, the majority of such youth remain closeted, according to various sources.

The percentage of closeted athletes has been described as “overwhelming.”

Approximately eighty percent of all LGBTQ teenage athletes are hiding their sexuality from their peers, fans, teammates, and coaches. That’s according to a new report by LGBTQ advocacy organization the Human Rights Campaign. The study was published by HRC, in conjunction with the University of Connecticut.

According to Pink News, “The study surveyed more than 12,000 teenagers in the US, aged between 13 and 17, who participated in HRC’s online 2017 LGBT+ Teen Survey. Researchers decided to focus specifically on the experience of LGBT+ youth in sports because of the positive social, psychological and physiological effects of engaging in physical activities that teen may miss out due to lack of acceptance.”

According to ThinkProgress, HRC’s data-collection centered on “youth between the ages of 13-17, from all 50 states plus Washington, D.C. Ashland Johnson, HRC Foundation Director of Public Education and Research, told ThinkProgress that it was crucial to gather data on both the overall climate of youth sports for participants in the LGBTQ community, as well as access.”

Studies suggest that youth athletics are positive forces for team-building, positive community-based interactions, and physical health. LGBTQ advocates argued for the increased presence of gay youth in competitive sports.

Roughly a quarter of all survey respondents said that they engage in some kind of school sport. That’s a drastic contrast to the totals for non-LGBTQ youth, which ranks in with sixty-eight percent participation.

The numbers drop even lower when transgender boys and non-binary youth are added in (fourteen percent). The total for transgender girls is about twelve percent.

According to GLSEN (formerly the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network), “From physical education class to the playing field, athletic spaces at school are often hostile places for LGBTQ youth. Unfortunately, these spaces can be so hostile that many students outright avoid them: Nearly a third avoid P.E. classes, and over a fifth avoid school athletics fields and facilities due to feeling unsafe or uncomfortable, according to GLSEN research.”

A number of professional athletes, such as the former NBA player Jason Collins, have come out in recent years.