While sports participation is often associated with things like improved physical health, social skills, and psychological well-being, for LGBTQ+ youth, sports participation can exacerbate feelings of social exclusion and stigma. insecurity, according to new research.

School spaces associated with sports, such as locker rooms, are generally avoided by LGBTQ+ youth, with nearly 44% saying they avoid them because they feel unsafe, according to new search of the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN).

40% said they avoid gym class and 25% said they avoid sports fields or other sports facilities.


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Transgender and non-binary students were much more likely than their cisgender LGBQ peers to fear sports-related spaces at school, with 63% saying they were not comfortable using locker rooms.

Avoiding sports-related spaces for safety reasons was associated with a lower likelihood of participating in school sports, according to GLSEN.

Among LGBTQ+ students surveyed who wanted to play sports, about 10% said they had been prevented or discouraged from participating in sports because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, and a further 27% said ‘they weren’t allowed to use gender-segregated facilities. like locker rooms that match their gender identity.

In particular, positive school support systems for LGBTQ+ youth, such as having an understanding teacher to talk to, learning about positive portrayals of LGBTQ+ history and events in the classroom, and having anti-bullying or harassment policies in place, were linked to a lower likelihood of avoiding sports spaces.

When LGBTQ+ youth participate in school sports, they may experience higher levels of self-esteem, lower levels of depression, and greater school connectedness, according to GLSEN.

“Young people learn lifelong lessons playing sport with their peers, including teamwork, sportsmanship, self-discipline and how to be a leader,” said Melanie Willingham-Jaggers, director executive of GLSEN. said in a press release. “Trans and non-binary students want to play sports for the same reason that all student athletes do: to be part of a team where they feel like they belong. »

“Across the country we are seeing a wave of discriminatory attacks targeting our trans student athletes,” she said. “Every student should have the same educational opportunity, including being part of a sports team.”

At least 50 invoices were introduced this year and target youth participation in student athletics.


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