Reflections on progress during Pride Month and work still to be done

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With Pride Month concluding last week, our Head of Governance and EDI, Vijaya Panangipalli, reflects on the progress being made to make our sector more inclusive, as well as what more is needed to continue to make sport, recreation and physical activity open and accessible to all.

We delivered two significant events in June: SportingQueer, a photo exhibition to celebrate queer individuals in sport and recreation, and a Roundtable discussion on LGBTQ+ inclusion in sport.

The idea for SportingQueer originated last year and the aim was to celebrate individuals within the sport and recreation sector by photographing them as their true selves. For some, this was a celebration; for us, it was much more. It was a platform to create visibility, share individual stories, and unite the LGBTQ+ community. Our event attracted over 70 attendees, and I was deeply moved by the stories of passionate individuals who face numerous hurdles to be seen, heard, and treated equally.

Our event provided a much-needed space for networking and support, bringing a whole community together. As part of our ongoing EDI work, our Roundtable later in the month focused on LGBTQ+ inclusion in sport. We invited three panellists to discuss the current state of inclusivity, what makes an inclusive sport, and future directions. They emphasised the importance of leading by example, developing cultural competencies, standing up as allies, showing empathy without judgment, supporting future generations, and fostering an open culture. These elements are crucial for any organisation striving to be truly inclusive.

My takeaway from all of this is that organisations need to do more, listen more, and connect more with a breadth of diverse communities from across the society. There are still high levels of discrimination and homophobia that we need to eradicate. This will only happen if we all work together to challenge such behaviours. Leaders should make it clear that their organisations will have zero tolerance towards anti-social behaviours and discriminatory language. There should be opportunities to educate everyone—whether staff, members, fans, or parents.

The Alliance is determined to create more opportunities for various groups and communities to come together and has plans in place to bring about this change within our membership. Watch this space as our work to elevate the EDI dialogue has come leaps and bounds and we have far more to deliver this year which includes more Roundtable discussions, connecting our members with various diverse communities and bringing the voice of EDI leaders to the sector.