Across the world, sports represent an opportunity for us to transcend difference, celebrate excellence and build community. When we see open and proud role models on the field, court, track or elsewhere who share our experiences and identities, we are reminded of our own potential and power.
However, for many LGBTQ youth, the lack of visible LGBTQ athletes means that they don’t see themselves represented as champions. HRC Foundation’s recent study with the University of Connecticut found that just 24 percent of LGBTQ youth participated in a sport, compared to 68 percent of a national, external sample of all youth. And as we hear from too many young LGBTQ athletes, this disparity is often a product of non-inclusive sporting environments, discriminatory policies and anti-LGBTQ attitudes that can pervade athletic spaces.
As we approach the 30th annual National Coming Out Day, HRC celebrates LGBTQ athletes and sports professionals who have publicly shared their LGBTQ identities and experiences over the past year to inspire others. This group include referees like Alex Valvo and Pascal Erlachner and athletes like Nir Rotenberger, Mike Parrow, Jessica Platt, Zach Leader, Matt Evers, Sandra Forgues, Bradley Kim, Tadd Fujikawa, Robert Páez and Christine Nairn. Together, and alongside the increasing number of out athletes participating in sports all over the world, all of these sportspeople are proving that LGBTQ athletes exist and deserve the right to thrive in any and all sporting contexts.
HRC also celebrates LGBTQ members of the athletic community who, for any number of reasons, are unable to come out. We reaffirm our commitment to creating a world in which everyone can bring their whole selves to authentically participate in sports, school, work, government and all facets of society.
For more information on the challenges faced by aspiring LGBTQ atheletes and how you can help dismantle these barriers, be sure to read HRC’s Play to Win: Improving the Lives of LGBTQ Youth in Sports.
For more information about HRC’s work in sports equity, click here.