Gender and sexual identity in girls’ sports: Girls in the Lead
The series of webinars is part of Girls in the Lead’s project supported by the Postcode Foundation. The webinars are designed to open a network for best-practice exchange and encourage the interdisciplinary sharing of knowledge within national and international contexts.
Five speakers accepted the invitation to share more about their projects’ approach to a more inclusive sport environment. These speakers included:
- Pia Mann - Discover Football
- Itong Ehrke - Seitenwechsel
- Tony Gubesa - Grassroot Soccer, Play Proud Project
- Aya Noguchi - Sport for Creating Pathways Japan
- Alison Carney - Research Consultant
Perceptions of what is male and female is deeply rooted within our cultures and sports. It is ingrained into who we are, what we wear, and even what sports we play. Female and LGBTIQ* participation in sports is still frowned upon in some cultures. This brings the question of how we can address questions on gender and sexuality in a culturally sensitive way. It’s important to reiterate that inclusivity for every person, regardless of gender or sexual identity, is the ultimate goal.
Discussion around cultivating a safe space for girls and LGBTIQ* people were prevalent in each breakout group. Unfortunately, access to a safe playground, feeling unable to express themselves, and not feeling protected in the sport space is a big problem for many. Children need to feel safe to be their most authentic selves. With social-cultural norms that already make it harder for girls’ to claim spaces, it is crucial that this support is provided to them.
Where there are problems, there are solutions. Speakers and participants dug deeper into the root of these issues. Due to a lack of education on gender and sexual identity in school, a bridge between school education and school sports must be created. Working towards one impact goal of making young people socially aware so that they can grow into socially conscious adults. Additionally, influencing policies, engaging the government, and having the support of the government is the most crucial part of creating a safe future for girls, women, and LGBTIQ* youth - on and off the field.
The webinar sparked many conversations about taking the next steps to inclusivity within sport.
Some steps included more visibility for a diverse community of athletes, lobbying for inclusive policies so we can share more lived experiences, and more training for staff members on safeguarding policies.
Watch a recording of the webinar here.
While some questions still remain, one thing is certain: people are more than their gender identity. Girls in the Lead is committed to building a community that supports girls in sport, regardless of their gender or sexual identity.
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