Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Taking On Homophobia In Sport in Canada, the UK and Australia

The Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women in Sport and Physical Activity, AthletesCAN, and Coaches of Canada are sponsoring a program for the Canadian-led International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO) on May 17 that focuses on addressing homophobia in sport. Entitled “Speaking about Silence: Homophobia in the Sports World,” this coalition of Canadian sports organizations offers action suggestions and resources for addressing homophobia. I am proud to say they have included some of the resources on the It Takes A Team web site in the campaign.

It does make me wonder about what is our problem here in the United States when I see coordinated efforts by national sport governing organizations in Canada to address homophobia in sport. Similar sport specific efforts are underway in the UK – men’s football, and in Australia – men’s rugby. This would be the equivalent of an NFL anti-homophobia campaign here in the United States.

Though things are improving and I know the NFL does some diversity training that includes “gay issues” for rookie camp every year, I am not seeing the kind of national level efforts that compare with the Canadian “Speaking About Silence” campaign or the “Kick It Out” campaign in the UK or the “This is OZ” rugby photo exhibits in Australia. Can you imagine pro athletes like Kobe Bryant, Derek Jeter and Tom Brady holding up signs for a photo shoot that say things like, “It’s not who you are, it’s how you play the game,” or “Everyone deserves a sporting chance, stand up against homophobia.”

Me neither. It’s just reminder that, though we are making progress, we still have a long way to go and that we are lagging behind other countries in our efforts.


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