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Be challenged by what is possible, not what is impossible

This blog was written by Chris Kirkpatrick, a Health Promotion Practitioner at Peninsula Health.

A virtual presentation was recently held by our Health Promotion Team for local sporting clubs to increase their confidence in making their clubs more welcoming and inclusive of LGBTIQ+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender/ gender diverse, Intersex and Queer/ questioning) people.

An inclusive club is one where LGBTIQ+ people feel comfortable to be themselves, allowing them to thrive.

This free training event attracted 22 participants from a range of Frankston and Mornington Peninsula region sporting clubs and associations. It was an opportunity for club members to gain insights about LGBTIQ+ related language, resources, strategies and practical tips on how to be a more inclusive club.

Examples of local clubs who have taken action to embrace diversity and provide inclusive environments were also showcased. One of the clubs showcased was Belvedere Park Tennis Club in Seaford, whom have now held two successful rainbow events.

They did this by engaging representatives from the LGBTIQ+ community in the planning of the event, they amended policy and registration forms and developed a supportive physical and visual environment through the installation of flags and signage.

Events like this can have a positive impact for LGBTIQ+ people, by increasing the community’s awareness of LGBTIQ+ people and sending a message to the community that LGBTIQ+ inclusion is important to the club.

Our presentation included a guest presenter, Christine Granger, CEO of Proud 2 Play.

Proud 2 Play is a lead organisation shaping the landscape of sports inclusion for LGBTIQ+ people. And there is also the family and friends of the LGBTIQ community to consider, who often don’t feel comfortable in environments where there is discrimination and derogatory language aimed at their LGBTIQ loved ones.

Embracing diversity supports a wider membership for sports clubs, by both obtaining new members and retaining existing members. Supportive clubs allow LGBTIQ+ players, volunteers, fans and their friends to feel safe from discrimination and put downs. Embracing diversity also supports clubs to comply with the government’s Equal Opportunity Act and Sex Discrimination Act

Australia has a diverse population, and up to 11% of Australians may have a diverse sexual orientation, sex or gender identity. 1.7% of children born in Australia are estimated to be intersex (Face the Facts, 2014).

Up to 80% of young gay men and 75% of young gay women playing sport have not disclosed their sexuality to their team mates, and 80% of Australians have experienced or witnessed homophobia in sports (Pride Cup Handbook, 2019.) “Imagine being a young person from a marginalised group of society.

A group in which 48% have attempted suicide. A group where almost 80% have self-harmed. A group that experiences depression and anxiety at ten times the national rate. And now imagine being denied access to sport,” says CEO of Cricket Australia, 2020.

These statistics demonstrate the need for change, so that sport is a positive experience and everyone can feel comfortable to be themselves and participate fully.

The feedback from our virtual event was very positive. Participants commented that it was ‘extremely informative’ and that they ‘got a lot out of it’.

This result has led the Health Promotion Team to explore the idea of running a series of sessions based around the key strategies which foster an inclusive club: inclusive policy and club documentation, inclusive physical and visual environments, awareness raising and training and the engagement of club leadership, club members and the LGBTIQ+ community in all inclusion activities.

If your sports club wants to be more inclusive, you can access support by emailing Chris Kirkpatrick at ckirkpatrick@phcn.vic.gov.au

If you are interested in creating healthy environments, would like to partner with us, or have a question, please contact us at: healthpromotion@phcn.vic.gov.au

Sources

Pride Cup webpage

Pride Cup Handbook, 2019 

Face the Facts, 2014

Roy Morgan research, accessed 25.01.18 

Inclusive sport survey, 2014, Human Rights & Discrimination Commissioner, ACT Government