So far this blog has primarily focused upon how homophobia in sport is affecting adult players. However, if this pattern of the behaviour is really going to change it is important to look at the younger generation. This blog post is going to explore how NSPCC is trying to tackle the problem.
The NSPCC is highly concerned about the effect homophobia in sport is having on young people. Their Child Protection in Sport Unit (CPSU) has a specific briefing, which is designed to help inform adults how to protect children from this kind of bullying. The figures which have been used to design this are based on the data provided by the The School Report made by Stonewall in 2006.
Here are some of the shocking statistics, which Stonewall discovered when investigating the homophobic bullying of young people.
65% of young LGB people have experienced homophobic bullying or harassment.
92% of young LGB people have experienced verbal abuse because of their sexual orientation.
41% have been the victim of physical abuse because of their sexual orientation.
17% have received death threats because of their sexual orientation.
84.5% of young LGB people, who have been the victims of homophobic bullying, have considered suicide.
These statistics clearly demonstrate the extent to which homophobic bullying plays a part in young LGB people’s lives. The CPSU believes that there are three main myths which need to be dispelled in order to create better equality.
· All Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender people choose to be ‘that way’
· Young people cannot be Gay, Lesbian or Bisexual
· “It’s only banter” or “ just part of the culture of team sports”
They believe that in order to eradicate these myths and this form of bullying the following prevention methods need to be put in place.
· Promote positive environments and behaviours in which difference (in a variety of senses) is embraced and celebrated. For example this may include having discussions about positive homosexual or bisexual sports role models, posters or signs that denote ‘safe spaces’ for LGB people (rainbow flags or pink triangles), or specific events/displays.
· Ensure relevant policies and procedures exist, for example, checking that homophobic bullying is included in anti-bullying and related policies, procedures and codes of conduct, and that reports and referrals are acted upon.
· Assess and monitor the extent of homophobic bullying through anonymous coach and youth members surveys, and existing methods like bullying boxes. Evaluate the responses received and ensure consistent recording and reporting.
· Raise awareness of what homophobic bullying is and how the sports organisation will respond. Ensure effective reporting systems are in place to enable members to report incidents. Sports leaders attending specific training about sexuality and /or diversity.
· Create a safe culture for example by challenging the word ‘gay’ as a derogatory term. Ensure fast and effective removal of any graffiti.
· Know how to provide sensitive support to LGB members to help them feel safe, and able to tell adults in authority positions about incidents of homophobic bullying.
It is still unclear the extent to which these criteria are being followed in school and local sports clubs. Hopefully with greater awareness and the work of charities such as the NSPCC more can be done to stamp out homophobia in sport from a young age.