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Tackling Homophobia in Community Sport - the Pride Cup

Education Futures’ Assoc. Professor Ruth Jeanes led a team of researchers from Monash Education commissioned by VicHealth to measure the impact of the Pride Cup program in Australia. Established in 2012 by the Yarra Glen Football and Netball Club, the Pride Cup is now a nation-wide movement that ensures LGBTI+ people are included and welcomed in sport and in their broader community.

People who identify as LGBTI+ face discrimination and exclusion when seeking to participate in sport. Participation rates of gay and bisexual teenage boys are half that of their heterosexual peers. Girls who identify as lesbian and transgender young people also experience discrimination and exclusion. This has obvious implications for the health and well-being of individuals in the LGBTI+ community.

Researchers surveyed all sporting clubs that had participated in a Pride Cup from January to September 2019, with follow-up interviews with committee members, coaches, players and volunteers at several of these clubs. Surveys were also undertaken at comparison clubs that had not participated in the Pride Cup program. Sports represented were AFL, netball, cricket, roller derby and hockey. All participants in the survey and interviews were aged 18 and over.

One significant finding of the research is that almost half of respondents across all clubs surveyed still believe that homosexuality is wrong or unnatural. Individuals in non-participating clubs are much more likely to witness homophobic language being used by teammates and by coaches and are much more likely to believe it is acceptable to make jokes about gay people or to use homophobic language if the targets of such language are not present. This was also the case with sexist and racist language. This shows that the LGBTI+ community still struggles against a range of social barriers to participation in community sport.

While participation in the Pride Cup program did not eliminate these behaviours entirely, the rates of homophobic language are much lower in participating clubs. The majority of organisers report that the Pride Cup created greater awareness of LGBTI+ inclusion in their clubs and that hosting the Pride Cup sent a strong message to their community that homophobia would not be tolerated.

The conclusions drawn from this research is that participation in the Pride Cup program is effective at raising awareness and educating people about LGBTI+ issues; it changes behaviours to be more inclusive; and promotes a safe, supporting and open educational environment. Interviewees also report that participation provided financial benefits, improving their success in winning grants for their clubs.

However, clubs still report very few members who identify as belonging to the LGBTI+ community. More work is needed to engage sporting clubs in the education component of the Pride Cup program, reinforce lessons about LGBTI+ issues, change homophobic language and behaviours, challenge masculine norms, and support sporting clubs to sustain change.

Evaluation Findings

Benefits to Clubs 

The research team included: Assoc. Professor Ruth Jeanes, Dr Karen Lambert and Dr Justen O'Connor from the Faculty of Education, and Ms Nadia Bevan and Mr Erik Denison from the Faculty of Arts.  

Download the full report.

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Tackling Homophobia in Community Sport - the Pride Cup

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