Claiming to oppose homophobia is one thing, but taking a stand and shouting down bigotry is a whole different ballgame, and a recent study shines a light on just how few people will speak out.
The resarch published by the London-based LGBTQ charity group Stonewall found that 58 percent of the 1,000 British adults surveyed agreed that anti-LGBT language should be challenged, and 53 percent felt everyone has a responsibility to call out derogatory behavior and abuse. But only 25-percent felt confident enough to do so. The study called those one out of every four fans “hesitant allies,” reported The Independent.
“Sport is one of our strongest tools for social change, which is why it‘s so powerful to see so many people wanting to do more to support LGBT people and challenge anti-LGBT abuse in sport,” said Stonewall director of sport Kirsty Clarke in a statement.
The study was conducted prior to release of research in Australia which revealed the very athletes who admit to using anti-gay slurs would still accept a gay teammate. Erik Denison, the lead researcher, sports inclusion project, behavioral science laboratory at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, looked into the actions and attitudes toward gay athletes of rugby players age 16 to 20 across southern Australia. Researchers collected 329 surveys from the athletes, only one of whom identified as gay.
As Outsports reported, 78 percent said they had heard teammates use terms like the “F” word or “poof” within two weeks, and 59 percent said they even used those words themselves in that time frame. Fewer than half, 47 percent, said they had personally been called those words.
Yet 83 percent of these same respondents — the vast majority — told researchers they believe a gay player would be welcome on their team.
The British survey also preceded an event last week in which members of a non-league soccer club donned special uniforms that consisted entirely of the LGBTQ Pride flag. The Altrincham Football Club and its fans wore the jerseys as part of the Football v. Homophobia effort in the U.K.
“Over the past few years, we‘ve seen inspiring work from many sporting associations,” Clarke said, “who are committed to creating an inclusive and welcoming atmosphere.”
According to the Herdon Gazette, Stonewall suggested these tips that every fan can try, to move beyond being a hesitant ally at a sporting event, and become an “active ally:” wear rainbow-colored laces, watching your own language, and reporting abusive language or actions to stadium authorities.
“We want more players, fans, clubs and organizations to join in and understand how they can play a part in changing attitudes and standing up for LGBT equality,” said Clarke. “Our work won‘t be finished until every lesbian, gay, bi and trans person, from fans to players, is accepted without exception.”