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viaSport British Columbia – With sport participation rates among gay, lesbian, and bisexual teens in B.C. declining, immediate action is needed

Vancouver, B.C. – Over 100 leaders from across B.C. sport and recreation gathered on Tuesday night to address declining participation rates among the LGBTQI2S community and ways to make the BC sport sector more safe, welcoming, and inclusive for all. Recent research has shown ‘andrew.chang@cbc.ca’that homophobia in sport continues to negatively impact participation rates among the LGBTQI2S community; lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth are half as likely to participate as their peers identifying as heterosexual.[i]

Startlingly, the problem appears to be getting worse. While five out of 10 boys who identified as gay in B.C. participated in formal or coached sports in 1998, by 2013 that proportion had dropped to three in 10. Participation also dropped among lesbian and bisexual girls.[ii]

“We know that sport is a place where friendships, community, and important life lessons are formed and every British Columbian deserves access to these opportunities,” says viaSport CEO Sheila Bouman. “As we simply cannot and will not allow for any group or person to feel unsafe or excluded from participating in sport or physical activity in our province, viaSport is actively championing changes so that sport is truly inclusive.”

Hosted by viaSport B.C. and led by iconic transgender athlete and advocate Chris Mosier, the sold-out P.R.I.D.E. in Sport Forum (Promoting Respect and Inclusion through Diversity Education) brought together provincial and disability sport organizations, school district staff from as far away as Kamloops,  as well as leaders from the City of Vancouver, West Vancouver, Surrey, YWCA, and YMCA – advocates who recognize that urgent change is needed to make sport and recreation more safe and inclusive for LGBTQI2S British Columbians.

While all participants left inspired, the Forum was just the beginning of meaningful action. viaSport will collaborate with key partners to champion change in terms of policy development, the identification of best practices, and working towards attitudinal shifts in sport. From expanding gender options on registration forms, to the introduction of pronouns, to expanded educational opportunities for coaches, viaSport will lead a sector-wide effort to create meaningful and impactful change in B.C.

“We know this won’t happen overnight” says Bouman. “This P.R.I.D.E. in Sport Forum was designed as a first step to deepen our collective understanding of the issues and opportunities, and where we can best make a difference for persons who identify as LGBTQ12S. It was enormously successful in accomplishing that, and we look forward to working with partners and allies to create positive change.” 

One of the key partners that viaSport has enlisted is You Can Play – a leader in advocacy and action within sport for the LGBTQI2S community. You Can Play has successfully led partnerships with the NHL, CFL and MLS to make sport more inclusive. Through expertise and support from You Can Play, viaSport aims to make changes in amateur sport policy to equip local teams, parents and coaches with the tools and support to make sport inclusive for everyone, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity or expression.  

About viaSport British Columbia:

viaSport British Columbia is a not-for-profit organization created, with the support of the Provincial Government, as a legacy of the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. Our mandate is to increase awareness, opportunity and participation in sport across the province – at every stage of life and in every community. By leading the province’s sport sector in building a stronger, more effective system, we will bring more families to the field of play, more fans into the stands, more athletes to the podium, and more sports events to the province. Learn more at viasport.ca

Media Contact: 
Kelly Aldinger 
Manager, Community