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Homophobia Common in US Sports

  • Robbie Rodgers, from the Los Angeles Galaxy of Major League Soccer

    Robbie Rodgers, from the Los Angeles Galaxy of Major League Soccer | Photo: Reuters

Published 9 May 2015

The silver lining of the gloomy report is that U.S. youth are more likely to be ‘out of the closet’ than ever before.

One year after the first openly gay football player Michael Sam was drafted to play in the National Football League – only to be later released, the first international survey on homophobia in English countries revealed on Saturday that the United States was the worse country to be a gay sportsperson in.

The report entitled “Out on the Fields,  which was reviewed by academics from six different universities, found that homophobia was particularly common in team sports, with gay and lesbian players often hearing slurs from their teammates or from the spectators.

Over three-quarters of U.S. people surveyed believed youth sports was not safe or supportive of LGB people, while globally, 62 percent of all respondents said homophobia was more common in team sports than other parts of society, like in the military for instance.

"If we believe sports participation is important, then we need to create a climate where everyone can participate," said Pat Griffin, professor emerita of social justice education at the University of Massachusetts.

On the positive side, U.S. youth was more likely to be ‘out of the closet’ than ever before, the survey found.

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Robbie Rogers, an openly gay player in the U.S. Major Soccer League, stated in an email that there should be immediate bans for fans and “stiff penalties” for players using discriminatory language. 

“I was disappointed the study found so many people continue to experience and also fear discrimination but I hope this will start to motivate change at all levels. National and international sports governing bodies, including and NFL and FIFA, need to make committed and determined efforts to ensure LGBTI people feel welcome,” he told the LGBT Weekly.

The study was conducted by Repucom on behalf of a coalition of LGBTI sports groups. Almost 9,500 people from the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the U.K. and Ireland participated, including 2,500 heterosexuals people. The majority of the respondants, 78 percent, came from the United States.

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