Over three-quarters (78 per cent) of people want to see more sport stars supporting the LGBQTI+ community, and 84 per cent believe sport can play an important role in promoting a positive discussion around inclusivity.
That’s according to new research carried out to launch ‘State of Play’, a new campaign from Bord Gáis Energy which aims to highlight the importance of inclusivity and allyship in team sports.
As part of the campaign, Bord Gáis Energy has teamed up with hurling stars Joe Canning and Gearóid Hegarty as well as activist Rory O’Neill, aka Panti Bliss, to talk about inclusivity and the ways in which team sports can be made a welcoming place for everyone.
Barriers to participation
A lack of representation of the LGBTQI+ community at elite level (38 per cent), lack of role models (35 per cent) and concerns about feeling excluded (33 per cent) are cited as key barriers to increasing participation by the LGBTQI+ community in team sports.
To increase participation, 27 per cent want to see more visibility of LGBTQI+ players at elite level and 22 per cent want to see clubs actively demonstrating a zero-tolerance policy for intolerance or discrimination.
The GAA is currently working with BeLonG To, Ireland’s LGBTQI+ youth organisation, to develop an online awareness module for GAA clubs and members designed to help remove barriers to sports participation for members of LGBTQI+ community.
The Bord Gáis Energy ‘State of Play’ research follows on from a recent Gaelic Players Association (GPA) survey where half of players said they felt there would be prejudice against players if they came out. This is despite 99 per cent of players surveyed saying they would support a teammate coming out.
County pride meets Pride
To help promote allyship and inclusivity in team sports, Bord Gáis Energy has created 32 limited edition GAA County Pride t-shirts.
The t-shirts are on sale from today at Hairy Baby for €20 and all proceeds will go to Focus Ireland to support young adults from the LGBTQI+ community who are experiencing homelessness.
The aim of these t-shirts is to encourage support for the LGBTQI+ community and showcase that the GAA is a place for everyone.
“I’m delighted to be part of this campaign as I believe it’s hugely important that we work towards making ours a fully inclusive society, where people feel free to be who they are both on and off the pitch,” said Gearóid Hegarty.
“I know that many people in the LGBTQI+ community don’t feel like they belong in team sports or that they can’t be themselves in that environment and that to me is something that we really need to change.”
“I have gotten so much out of my own involvement in sport, and I would love to think that that anyone else who wants to get involved in sport can do so without worrying what people will say or think.”
“At Bord Gáis Energy, we’re passionate about promoting an inclusive culture where difference is valued, and each and every person can thrive,” added Dave Kirwan, Managing Director of Bord Gais Energy.
“That’s why we wanted to use our sponsorship of the GAA Hurling All-Ireland Senior Championship as a high-profile platform to highlight the importance of inclusivity and allyship in team sports.”
“This campaign aims to build on the great work the GAA is already doing to to help remove barriers to sports participation for members of LGBTQI+ community. Our goal is to help continue and drive this conversation not just in June, but throughout the whole year.”
“We’re calling on people across the country to get involved and show their support by wearing one of our limited-edition GAA County Pride t-shirts both on and off the field. Together we can proudly demonstrate to the world that the GAA, and in our case hurling is a place for everyone.”
Bord Gais Energy, Bank of Ireland, Sporting Pride, Triathlon Ireland and Aviva will be among the Sport for Business members taking part in a special Pride Round Table discussion on LGBTQ+ and Sport on Tuesday, June 28th in Dublin. For details click on the link below.
Sport for Business Partners