Celebrating Pride Month: Championing Inclusion in Sport

Progressive Pride flag ()

As Pride Month unfolds, it is a time for celebration, reflection, and renewed commitment to the principles of equality, diversity, and inclusion (EDI). Fostering an inclusive sector is not just a moral imperative but a practical necessity.

Unintentional exclusion can create long-term barriers that deter participation and stall the benefits of physical activity across society. The Sport and Recreation Alliance (Alliance) has been at the forefront of advocating for EDI matters, driving the agenda on inclusion within sport and recreation organisations for years, and we will continue to deliver our commitment in years to come.

Sports have the power to unite people from diverse backgrounds, fostering community spirit and enhancing physical and mental well-being. The recent Active Lives Adults Survey indicates that gay men, lesbian women and bisexual adults are all more likely to be active than heterosexual adults. While this is positive, the Out for Sport report highlights a significant issue: around 57% of LGBTQ+ individuals would participate in sport if it were more LGBTQ+-friendly. Additionally, the report also reveals that one in eight LGBTQ+ people avoid gyms or sports activities due to discrimination. These figures underscore the urgent need for sports to reflect and review their commitment to be more inclusive.

What We Are Doing About It

Last year we shared the reflections of Olympic race walker and British record holder Tom Bosworth - one of very few openly gay athletes in the United Kingdom to have competed at the highest level of their sport - and we also invited Jon Holmes, founder and lead of Sports Media LGBTQ+, to share his thoughts on LGBTQ+ inclusion in sport. These stories come from individuals with lived experiences, offering valuable lessons on what to do and, just as crucially, what not to do. We are also particularly proud of our Transgender Workshop we conducted at the end of 2022.

This year, we are celebrating LGBTQ+ communities through a new initiative, SportingQueer - a photography exhibition, in partnership with WeAre, highlighting the remarkable LGBTQ+ role models making a difference in sports, and the sector's efforts to promote diversity and inclusion more broadly. We are also convening a roundtable discussion at the end of the month on LGBTQ+ inclusion in sport and recreation.

A Broad Approach to Inclusivity

Diversity and inclusion come in many shapes and forms. This is why we are dedicated to breaking down these barriers and championing inclusion through a variety of initiatives. Our Inclusivity Hub serves as a central resource for best practices and guidance materials on EDI topics and our E-learning platform serves as an educational Hub on EDI matters. And we launched our Roundtables series to focus on creating an open dialogue on key issues – such as Inclusive Recruitment - bringing together stakeholders and our members to discuss and develop solutions.

Looking Forward: A Call to Action

We, and the sector more broadly, need to challenge ourselves to do more; to create allyships, and to amplify personal success stories that demonstrate the positive impact of inclusivity. We need to normalise discussions around EDI issues and address intersectionality. By fostering an environment where these conversations are regular and welcomed, we can begin to dismantle the barriers that prevent full participation.

The Alliance will continue to advocate for positive change within our membership. The journey towards true inclusion in sport is ongoing. It requires the collective effort of all stakeholders to ensure that everyone feels valued and supported.

This Pride Month, let us reaffirm our commitment to inclusion and take concrete steps to make the world of sport and recreation a better place for all. Let’s reflect on our practices and challenge one another to be more inclusive. Are we doing enough to make sports a welcoming space for all? Are we actively working to remove the barriers that prevent LGBTQ+ individuals from participating? If not, what can we do to address these and help each other.