According to a new study from the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), LGBT students benefit greatly from school sports, but many face discrimination, harassment and assault that often impedes their performance and participation.
Gym class has been the bane of many a kid’s existence, particularly us queer kids who may not always excel at climbing a rope, taking a lap or catching/throwing/anything to do with a ball.
GLSEN’s report, The Experiences of LGBT Students in School Athletics, analyzed the discomfort LGBT students felt in phys. ed, as well as extracurricular sports, by surveying 8,584 secondary school students between the ages of 13 and 20 in 3,224 unique school districts from all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
The study found that (unsurprisingly) gym class was an unsafe environment for many LGBT students; these students were underrepresented on extracurricular sports teams; many LGBT students faced harassment and discrimination on sports teams; and LGBT student athletes lack support from school officials.
Among the study’s key supporting evidence:
“GLSEN’s groundbreaking research has delved into nearly every aspect of school life for LGBT youth, and our findings demonstrate the concrete benefits that school athletics can provide LGBT students,” said Dr. Eliza Byard, GLSEN’s Executive Director. “We have also found critical gaps of safety and support that highlight the need for coaches, P.E. teachers and athletic directors to take action to ensure that school gymnasiums, playing fields and locker rooms are safe, inclusive and respectful places for all students.”