In the UK, the number of people who regularly take part in sport is increasing however, the all the numbers point towards an underrepresentation of LGBT participants. In a world heading towards equality and acceptance, why don’t the numbers add up? What are the options for LGBT participants?

The Facts

Under the Equality Act of 2010, those identifying as LGBT are protected against discrimination and in theory, this would allow those individuals to train and compete with every other athlete. However, this is sometimes not always possible due to homophobia or transphobia within the clubs. According to Out in the Fields (2015){1}, the use of homophobic verbal slurs (‘Faggot’ or ‘Dyke’ etc) was experienced by 84% of gay men and 82% of gay women. This experience could, quite easily, be affecting the confidence of LGBT athletes and have a negative consequence for those within sport.

For those identifying as trans, there can be added complications with competing however, the National Governing Bodies (NGB) are now starting to write policies which outline participation within their individual sports. At a local level, a trans individual is very able to train with a team in line with their gender identity and they are clearly covered under the Equality Act. If an individual has any questions regarding their participation in sport as a trans athlete, they should check out their NGB’s procedures.

LGBT Community Sport

Throughout England, there is a strong number of LGBT Sport Clubs, including both individual and team sports. Sport England noticed the lack of LGBT representation within sport and has invested a large amount of funds, focusing towards increasing the participation of LGBT people. They commissioned Pride Sports to create a report, looking at the barriers of entry with a view to get everyone active and involved.

Within the Pride Sports’ website, there’s an LGBT+ Sports Club map, where individuals are able to look for their local LGBT club. These clubs are generally concentrated in larger cities and towns however there are some organisations who also work locally. If you’re worried about joining a club as an LGBT athlete, check out the map and see if there’s anything in your area.

Outdoor Lads, is a large group focusing on male-identifying GBT+ people, who have physical activities on a national and local level. Whether it’s intense rock-climbing and hiking or going for a gentle walk, Outdoor Lads covers it all.

There are schemes in place for LGBT athletes and NGB are making the right steps towards inclusivity. In the past few years, the Rugby Football League has implemented specific LGBT training to all staff, a specific LGBT rugby league and a strategy to tackle homophobic language with fines and bans. Hopefully with the start of the RFL, other NGBs will also start implementing plans and making the sporting lives of LGBT people easier.

LGBT Sporting Role Models

It’s safe to say that there’s a severe misrepresentation of LGBT role models within the sporting world. The lack of role models could be severely impacting the number of participants however when we are often looking for role models, we often look towards professional footballers and Olympians. By doing this, we severely miss out of those LGBT individuals who are incredibly inspiring in their own right.

Sometimes the easiest thing to do is to create your own role models through social media. With that in mind, here’s just a small number of inspiring LGBT sporting people for you to follow:

James is a fantastic ASICS FrontRunner who is a great role model for LGBT individuals. His talent for running and his inspiring Instagram page is certainly worth a look.

Supporting LGBT Sports Participants

When it comes to supporting LGBT athletes within sport, I’d like to think that it’s quite obvious. In reality, those identifying as LGBT have the same dreams, hopes and talent as every other athlete.
Cracking down on ‘banter’ and disrespectful language within clubs will make the players feel more comfortable and allow for a good retention of team members.

Respect, acceptance and focus on an individual’s talent and technique instead of identity is always the way forward.


written by

Jamie Gane

Teacher of Mathematics from Basingstoke

Age group: 25-29

track & field trail obstacle race