Athletic Environment Traditionally, the athletic environment is thought of as a male dominated heterosexual arena where men could showcase their masculinity. In other words a place where “men” could be “men.” The sports community has expectations of traditional gender roles and expression of athletes (Sartore & Cunningham, 2008). The athletic world/environment is an “arena” for acting out sexuality (Eng, 2008). Women who participate in sports are commonly referred to as “mannish” or “masculine.” Women who play sports are a direct challenge to what it means to be “feminine” (Roper & Halloran, 2007) Participation in athletics is commonly perceived to validate a man as heterosexual (Roper & Halloran, 2007). Sport has long been identified as a phenomenon organized by heterosexuality and hegemonic masculinity, with ideas of the typical masculine athletes as being powerful, strong, and assumed heterosexual (Sartore & Cunnignham, 2008).
LG’s in the Athletic Environment There are currently no “out” professional athletes, however there are more “out” collegiate and high school athletes. Roper & Halloran (2007) stated that lesbians have received more acceptance as sexual minority athletes than gay athletes. Difference’s between gay and lesbian athletes and the athletic environment… Some research has stated that sport has influenced the formation of lesbian identity. For example, sport “attracts” lesbians, thus sports would offer lesbians social support, acceptance, and s sense of community (Ravel & Rail, 2008). Gay athletes have been more discriminated against and stigmatized in the sports community, due the culture being hyper-masculine.
LG’s in the Athletic Environment The “Gay Games” has served as a new framework for LGBT athletes to compete in sport similar to the “Olympics.”
Specific Issues Gay/Lesbian Athletes Face Lesbian and gay athletes face stigma, stereotypes, and discrimination in the athletic community. It has been salient through the following: (a) verbal discrimination (b) social isolation (c) homophobic harassment (d) discrimination in team selection, and (e) negative media attention/portrayals (Roper & Halloran, 2007). The aforementioned issue that lesbian and gay athletes face have many detrimental consequences. There have been documented hate crimes / suicides regarding lesbian and gay athletes. Justin Fashinu – English soccer player who committed suicide. Locker room culture Extremely anxiety provoking for many lesbian and gay athletes.
Attitudes In the general population: Men more than women typically tend to hold more negative attitudes towards LGBT individuals (Hinrichs & Rosenberg, 2002; Herek, 1988). Catholics and individuals with no religious affiliation tend to have more positive views towards LGB’s than there counterparts (Willis & Crawford, 2000). Individuals with higher education levels tend to have more favorable attitudes towards sexual minority people than individuals who have less education (Ensign et al. 2011). Research also highlights that people who tend to have more contact with LGBT individuals tend to have more favorable views than people who have little or no contact (Ensign et al. 2011; Hinrichs & Rosenberg, 2002; Herek, 2002).
Attitudes Cont. In the sports community: (Little research on attitudes towards LGBT athletes) Study 1: Ensign et al. examined 964 athletic trainers (AT’s) in the NCAA and their attitudes towards LGB student athletes. Results: Positive or somewhat positive attitudes were held by 86.4% of AT’s in this study. Men still tended to hold less favorable views than their female counterparts. Catholics and non religious affiliated AT’s held more favorable results towards LGB student athletes than did Protestant and Mormon AT’s. AT’s who had more contact with sexual minorities had more positive attitudes towards LGB student athletes than trainers that reported having little or no contact with sexual minorities (Ensign et al. 2011).
Attitudes Cont. Study 2: Campbell et al. (2011) Sports Fans’ Impressions of Gay Male Athletes This study examined female (n = 167) and male (n = 109) college students attitudes/impressions towards gay athletes. Study background/design: Researchers used a 2(orientation) x 2(distracting athlete) factorial design. Orientation = Gay or Heterosexual Distracting Athlete = Yes or No Results: Females held more favorable impressions/attitudes than males towards gay athletes. Males did not show a significant difference between how they rated the heterosexual and gay athlete or whether the athlete was distracting or not. What does this mean? It means that the men in this study were unaffected by sexual orientation of the athlete or whether the athlete was distracting or not. This may show that the sports community or the way lesbian/gay athletes are being viewed in society is slowly changing…
Politics NCAA Constitution 2.6 (the Principle of Nondiscrimination) founded in 1993. Amended in 2000 to include reference to sexual orientation. The “bylaw states that the Association shall promote an atmosphere of respect for and sensitivity to the dignity of every person and shall refrain from discriminating in its activities, including on the basis of age, color, disability, sex, national origin, race, religion, creed or sexual orientation (National Collegiate Athletic Association, 2009).” The NCAA also became an endorsing organization of “It Takes a Team! Education Campaign.” This outreach campaign is aimed at eliminating homophobia as a barrier to males/females in sport, so that the sports community can be made/considered safe and open to all (Griffin et al, 2002)
Politics Cont. Title IX (for schools and colleges that receive federal financial assistance) “Title IX of the Education Amendment Acts of 1972 prohibits discrimination based on sex in education programs and activities receiving federal financial assistance, this includes athletic programs. Although Title IX does not prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, sexual harassment directed at an LGBT student is prohibited by Title IX if it is sufficiently severe and pervasive that it results in denial or limitation of the victims ability to participate in or benefit from the program. Title IX also prohibits gender-based harassment, including harassment on the basis of a students failure to conform to stereotyped notions of masculinity and femininity (Griffin, Perrotti, Priest, & Muska, 2002). Example: This would include such things as discrimination against a female wrestler because she is perceived to be too masculine or discrimination of a male figure skater because he is perceived to be too feminine. Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment “All athletes and staff have a federal constitutional right to equal protection under the law. This means that schools have a duty to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) athletes and staff from harassment/discrimination on an equal basis with all other athletes and staff (Griffin, Perrotti, Priest, & Muska, 2002).”
Professional Athletes Currently there are no professional athletes “out” in America only “out” retired athletes. Professional Athletes can have many positive and negative effects on LG athletes and youth, as well as heterosexual athletes and youth. Unfortunately, anti-gay slurs by professional athletes and coaches have been ever so prevalent… Kobe Bryant (Basketball player for the Los Angeles Lakers). Incident happen April, 2011 during a game in front of thousands of fans. Kobe Bryant called the referee a F***** F***ot (Medina, 2011). Joakim Noah (Basketball player for the Chicago Bulls). This anti-gay slur occurred May 2011 where Mr. Noah called a bantering fan a F***ing F***ot after being call for his second foul by the referee ("Another professional athlete," 2011). De’sean Jackson (Football player for the Philadelphia Eagles). Mr. Jackson was on a radio show and received a call from a fan who decided to insult him, Mr. Jackson responded by calling him a gay a** F***ot (Mandell, 2011). This event occurred July, 2011. Tim Hardaway (Former basketball player for the Miami Heat). Mr. Hardaway blatantly said “ I hate gay people, so I let it be known. "I dont like gay people and I dont like to be around gay people. I am homophobic. I dont like it. It shouldnt be in the world or in the United States.” Additionally he said And second of all, if he was on my team, I would, you know, really distance myself from him because, uh, I dont think thats right. And you know I dont think he should be in the locker room while were in the locker room. I wouldnt even be a part of that("Retired nba star," 2007)." This event happened in 2007. Roger McDowell (Coach of the Atlanta Braves Baseball team). Mr. McDowell asked a group of male fans, "Are you a homo couple or a threesome?" and "Are you three giving it to each other in the a**.” Mr. McDowell also supposedly used the bat he was carrying to simulate gay sex. A father with children present confronted Mr. McDowell from the stands about his behavior, he responded by saying: "Kids dont [blanking] belong at the baseball park" ... and then approached him with a baseball bat, saying, "How much are your teeth worth (Brown, 2011)?” This event happened April, 2011.
Professional Athletes Cont. It is well known that athletes have been role models for children and especially youth athletes. This is why it is so unfortunate that there are no current out athletes. However, some retired professional and collegiate athletes have been activist for LGBT athletes and youth. Ex. Martina Navratilova, Austin Hendrix, & Hudson Taylor It is crucial for LGBT pro athletes to come out and be the catalyst for change in the athletic world and serve as role models for youth LGBT athletes. This will also be the first major step in combating the heterosexist and homophobic athletic community.
Activism in the Sports World Project Fearless / Fearless campus Tour Fearlesscampustour.com “It Takes A Team!” “It Gets Better” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pzxYUbMTkn4 (1:07) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ce-PB9mWEYQ (1:14) The “Gay Games” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q3JHARCnUOA (Intro to 2010 Gay Games 2:06) Gay and Lesbian Athletics Foundation (GLAF) Glaf.org Pat Griffin Blog (Pat Griffin is a pioneer in the realm of LGBT athletes) ittakesateam.blogspot.com
Project Fearless / Fearless Campus Tour Jeff Shang: Project Fearless: Creator of Project Fearless Displays pictures of “out” and the Fearless Campus high school and college Tour. athletes. Photographer for Project Is an activist project Fearless aimed at showcasing the LGBT Activist adverse effects of Former Athlete homophobia in sports. Harvard Graduate Fearless Campus Tour: Displays Jeff Shang’s photographs at different university and college campuses to heighten awareness.
Project Fearless Photos*All photos taken fromwww.fearlesscampustour.com
Psychological Interventions Dealing with the prejudice and stigma in the athletic community: As clinicians: We can explore with our clients the sometimes superficial acceptance and discrimination towards Lesbian and gay athletes in the sports community and help our clients acknowledge this phenomenon and possibly reject it, by engaging in dialogues with peers who engage in such behaviors (Gough, 2007). Isolation in the sports community: As clinicians: Give resources to our clients to seek dedicated support groups and websites for lesbian and gay athletes. This would help foster self-esteem and a sense of belonging. It may also be beneficial for our clients to get in to contact (if applicable) with other lesbian/gay athletes in the community to help our clients become more aware of heterosexism and homophobia, as well as a possible prompt for our client to have a collective and a possible means to create a political campaign (Gough, 2007).
Psychological Interventions Coming out to the team: Coming out to the team may create intense feelings of anxiety and fear for lesbian and gay athletes. As clinicians: We can assist our clients by giving them psychoeducation surrounding the coming out process as it relates to the team/sports environment. It has been recognized in the literature that even though coming out to the team may initially create intense feelings of fear and anxiety, in many cases once the individual comes out he/she reports that it was a positive/liberating experience (Gough, 2007; Ravel & Rail, 2008 ). Identity: It is important to be cognizant that our clients may dealing with identity issues; not just in the sports community, but possibly the familial and social communities simultaneously. As clinicians: We need to take an affirmative stance when working with these clients and offer deconstructive readings of sport and sexuality. Additionally, we can help our clients shift away from the homophobic lens and dichotomous conceptualization of sexuality, and attempt to highlight how positive embraces of identity and saliency not only empower but compel social transformation (King, 2009). Using Queer Theory : As clinicians we can use the core tenets of queer theory to help our clients deconstruct and challenge the heteronormative ideals and a way to combat homophobia and heterosexism in the sports community (Eng, 2008).
Other Considerations for Psychological Interventions Clinicians also need to be aware of our clients cultural, racial, and ethnic backgrounds. It is important not to dismiss double or even triple minorities. For example, when working with lesbian and gay athletes who come from another minority group (e.g. African American, Hispanic, and women) it is crucial for therapists to be cognizant that their client may be in the process of forming multiple identities (Ritter & Turndrup, 2002). Resolving Cultural Conflict: As clinicians: Identify where our clients are within the framework of cultural conflict (Ritter & Turndrup, 2002)…tailor the stages so it applies to lesbian and gay athletes. Stage 1: Denial of Conflicts Stage 2: Bisexual vs Gay or Lesbian Stage 3: Conflicts in Allegiances Stage 4: Establishing Priorities in Allegiances Stage 5: Integrating the Various Communities ***For further detail on the stages of cultural conflict see Ritter & Turndrup pages 197-198***
Additional Resources for Therapists’ Books Strong Women, Deep Closets (Pat Griffin) In the Game: Gay Athletes and the Cult of Masculinity (Eric Anderson) Sport, Sexualities and Queer Theory + many more books available Websites Pat Griffin’s blog ittakesateam.blogspot.com Hudson Taylors athleteally.com Itgetsbetter.org Changing the Game: The Glsen Sports Project Sports.glsen.org Foundations Gay & Lesbian Athletics Foundation (GLAF) The Gene & John Athletic Fund of Stonewall
Video Clips http://youtu.be/k7mJAgL2trA http://youtu.be/_QrGhAXQcFM http://youtu.be/X2mqtd0qx5w http://youtu.be/-g4HCBlho2E http://youtu.be/nHyK4eQpCEM
Questions for the Class..? What research is needed to further asses the current situation as it relates to LG athletes? What can we as mental health practitioners do to help eliminate the taboo of being labeled LG, which causes many athletes to remain closeted? With the hostile athletic community in mind and since “coming out” to the team is extremely anxiety provoking, how can gay and lesbian athletes begin to think about “coming out?” What and how would you as a clinician go about working with this client? What are some of your reactions to the video clips?
References: Another professional athlete hurls anti-gay slur. (2011, May 23). Retrieved from http://www.hrc.org/blog/entry/another-professional-athlete-hurls-anti-gay-slur1 Brown, D. (2011, April 27). Braves coach mcdowell apologizes after threat, gay slur accusation. Retrieved from http://sports.yahoo.com/mlb/blog/big_league_stew/post/Braves-coach-McDowell-apologizes-after- threat-g?urn=mlb-wp4652 Campbell, J., Cothren, D., Rogers, R., Kistler, L., Osowski, A., Greenauer, N., & End, C. (2011). Sport fans impressions of gay male athletes.Journal of Homosexuality, 58(5), 597-607. Eng, H. (2008). Doing sexuality in sport. Journal of Homosexuality, 54(1-2), 103-123. doi: 10.1080/00918360801951996 Ensign, K. A., Yiamouyiannis, A., White, K. M., & Ridpath, D. (2011). Athletic trainers attitudes toward lesbian, gay, and bisexual national collegiate athletic association student-athletes. Journal of Athletic Training, 46(1), 69-75. Gough, B. (2007). Coming out in the heterosexist world of sports: a qualitative analysis of web postings by gay athletes. Journal of Gay & Lesbian Psychotherapy, 11(1-2), 153-174. doi: 10.1300/j236v11n01_11
References Cont. Herek, G.M. (1988). Heterosexuals’ attitudes towards lesbian and gay men: correlates and gender differences. Journal of Sex Research, 25(4), 451-477. Herek, G.M. (2002) Heterosexuals’ attitudes towards bisexual men and women in the United States. Journal of Sex Research 39(4), 264-274. Hinrichs, D. W., & Rosenberg, P. J. (2002). Attitudes towards gay, lesbian, and bisexual persons among heterosexual liberal arts college students . Journal of Homosexuality, 43(1), 61-84. King, S. (2009). Virtually normal: mark bingham, the war on terror, and the sexual politics of sport. Journal of Sport & Social Issues, 33(1), 5-24. doi: 10.1177/0193723508328631 Mandell, N. (2011, July 08). Desean jackson makes gay slur during radio show appearance: report. New York Daily News. Retrieved from http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/football/desean-jackson-gay-slur- radio-show-appearance-report-article-1.158079 Medina, M. (2011, April 14). Kobe bryants anti-gay slur is indefensible; afterward is a nonapology, then reconciliation. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved from http://lakersblog.latimes.com/lakersblog/2011/04/kobe-bryants-anti-gay-slur-is-indefensible-and-he- handles-the-aftermath-with-mixed-results.html?cid=6a00d8341c506253ef014e87cbe576970d
References Cont. Ravel, B., & Rail, G. (2008). From straight to gaie? quebec sportswomens discursive constructions of sexuality and destabilization of the linear coming out process. Journal of Sport & Social Issues, 32(1), 4-23. doi: 10.1177/0193723507312022 Retired nba star hardaway says he hates "gay people". (2007, February 16). Retrieved from http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/news/story?id=2766213 Ritter, K. & Terndrup, A. (2002) Chapter 10: Sexual Minorities within Other Minority Populations. Handbook of Affirmative Psychotherapy with Lesbians and Gay men. (pp. 11-24). New York, NY: Guilford Press Roper, E. A., & Halloran, E. (2007). Attitudes towards gay men and lesbians among heterosexual male and female student-athletes. Sex Roles, 57, 919-928. doi: 10.1007/s1119-007-9323-0 Sartore, M. L., & Cunningham, G. B. (2009). Gender, sexual prejudice and sport participation: implications for sexual minorities. Sex Roles, 60, 100-113. doi: 10.1007/s1119-008-9502-7 Willis, G., & Crawford R. (2000). Attitudes towards homosexuality in Shreveport Bossier City, Louisiana. Journal of Homosexuality 38(3), 97-116.