Campus Pride Blog

“We are dropping the ball,” according to Campus Pride’s landmark report on the experiences of LGBTQ college athletes

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Report includes data from nearly 400 LGBTQ-identified NCAA athletes revealing how climate impacts the academic and athletic success of LGBTQ-identified athletes; includes best practices and resources for creating inclusive athletic environments.

 

“What is consistently missing from the national discussion is the LGBT voice as well as formal research about the systemic issues faced by LGBT young adult athletes today. In order to address homophobia, biphobia and transphobia in sports, we need to take action based on research which informs us about the LGBTQ athletes experience in the locker room and on the field,” said Campus Pride Executive Director Shane Windmeyer.

 

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Campus Pride, the nation’s leading educational organization for student leaders and campus groups working to create safer college environments for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) students, reissued the Campus Pride 2012 LGBTQ National College Athlete Report in light of recent developments in college athletics and the ongoing, pervasive LGBT harassment impacting sports culture.

Campus Pride released the national research in November 2012 with limited fanfare and, since then, the organization has expressed concern over national efforts to “rubber stamp” LGBTQ allies through national sports programs and on college campuses. “What we need is systemic change,” said Shane Windmeyer, Campus Pride Executive Director. “Videos and statements by teams about being an ally are only surface level marketing efforts and create general awareness. Right now, we are dropping the ball when it comes to being informed by research, influencing organization change and decision-making.”

Campus Pride calls on leaders in college and professional sports to take note of the impact of climate on athletic and academic outcomes for LGBTQ student-athletes and to “dig deeper for systemic change.”  In Fall 2013, Campus Pride has committed to launch its athletic index, the first of its kind in the nation.  The online tool will allow colleges and universities to benchmark LGBT-friendly policies, programs and practices in college athletics. The index will be based on the research findings, LGBTQ athlete experience and research experts in the field of college sports. The new index will be tied into the already successful Campus Pride Index (www.CampusPrideIndex.org) that supports institutional commitment and systemic change at deeper organizational levels according to Campus Pride.  The organization is also partnering with the Ben Cohen StandUp Foundation and GO! Athlete, the only LGBTQ athlete led organization in the country, to honor college athletes with our Voice & Action Award for their “real world” work championing change in college sports.

As evident the last few months, LGBTQ issues continue to dominate national headlines from questions about players’ sexual orientation at the NFL Scouting Combine to various calls for athletics to become more inclusive. “What is consistently missing from the national discussion is a diverse representation of the LGBT athlete voice as well as formal research about the systemic issues faced by LGBT young adult athletes today. In order to address homophobia, biphobia and transphobia in sports, we need to take action based on research which informs us about the LGBTQ athletes experience in the locker room and on the field,” said Windmeyer. “Our national athlete report is the first of its kind and demonstrates the impact of hate and discrimination on athletic performance and student-athlete success.”

Written by Campus Pride’s Q Research Institute for Higher Education (Dr. Susan Rankin and Dr. Daniel Merson), and with a foreword by Windmeyer, the Campus Pride 2012 LGBTQ National College Athlete Report is a clarion call to action for college and university administrators, athletic directors, and coaches. In addition to a literature review and research summary, the report includes a chapter of recommended best practices.

“Truly the first of its kind, this historic study signals a coming redefinition of sportsmanship: one that must welcome, include and respect all athletes,” said Ben Cohen, Chairman of the Ben Cohen StandUp Foundation and former World Cup rugby champion. “While there is much work to be done in the coming years, thanks to Campus Pride we finally have reliable data to track collective progress. Now that we are informed, we are obligated to act for change, as sports figures, teammates, coaches, advocates and allies.”

Key findings include:

  • LGBQ student-athletes experience a more negative campus climate than their heterosexual teammates. They also have lower perceptions of respect from coaches and teammates.
  • One in four LGBQ student-athletes are pressured to be silent about their sexual identity among teammates, coaches, and other athletes.
  • LGBQ student-athletes are three times more likely to experience harassment in on-campus housing than their heterosexual teammates.
  • LGBQ student-athletes are less likely to believe that their athletic departments addresses discrimination among coaches and teammates, leading to lower levels of athletic identity.
  • Negative perceptions of campus climate and respect adversely influence LGBQ student-athletes’ athletic identities and academic success.

The report is based on a secondary analysis of data from the 2009 Student-Athlete Climate Study (SACS)that included 8,481 student-athletes enrolled in United States universities representing all intercollegiate divisions and all NCAA sports. The Campus Pride report examined the climate for the 394 self-identified LGBTQ student-athletes in the SACS project. Researchers explored how the climate (campus, departmental, and team) influences LGBTQ student-athletes’ identity and success. Due to a small sample size, transgender student-athletes were not included in quantitative analyses; however, the report includes anecdotes from transgender athletes and recommended best practices for transgender inclusion.

Campus Pride is reissuing the report (originally released in November 2012) in light of recent developments within LGBTQ issues in athletics. For more information about the report or to view the report summary, visit www.campuspride.org/athlete or email info@campuspride.org.