The Relationship Between ‘Coming Out’ as Lesbian, Gay, or Bisexual and Experiences of Homophobic Behaviour in Youth Team Sports

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Introduction: Homophobia appears to be greater in sport settings than in others. However, little is known about whether lesbian, gay or bisexual (LGB) young people experience discriminatory behaviour in team sports because of their sexuality and whether coming out to sport teammates is associated with homophobic behaviour. 

Method: This study used a sample (N = 1173; 15–21 years; collected in 2014–2015) from six countries (United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland) to examine whether LGB youth who ‘come out’ to teammates experience homophobic behaviour. Results: Close to half of the sample (41.6%) reported having been the target of homophobic behaviour (e.g. verbal slurs, bullying, assaults). Multivariate logistic regression models adjusting for age, gender, country and contact sport participation found that participants who ‘came out’ as being LGB to sports teammates were significantly more likely to report being a target of homophobic behaviour. There appeared to be a dose response with coming out to more people associated with a greater likelihood of experiencing homophobic behaviour. Conclusion: The study results suggest a relationship between coming out as LGB and encountering homophobic behaviour in team sports. LGB experiences of homophobic behaviour appear common overall in this sample, but are greater in those who have come out to teammates. Policy Implication: Sports administrators and governments need to develop programs and enforce policies that create safe sports environments where LGB youth can participate without encountering homophobic behaviour.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages9
JournalSexuality Research and Social Policy
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 14 Sep 2020


  • Bisexual
  • Coming out
  • Gay
  • Homophobia
  • Lesbian
  • Sports
  • Stigma

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