LGBTQ kids who participate in sports are likelier to have more self-esteem, better grades and lower depressive symptoms compared to their LGBTQ peers, according to new research from The Trevor Project. This is why we fight every day for LGBTQ inclusion on the field.
The Trevor Project surveyed 17,476 LGBTQ students enrolled in middle school or high school between December 2019 and March 2020 in its second annual mental health survey. Axios was the first outlet to publish the findings.
The survey covers an array of topics, ranging from the mental health impact of our political climate (86 percent say recent politics have negatively impacted their well-being) to the issue of bathroom access (61 percent of transgender and nonbinary children say they’ve been prevented or discouraged from using a restroom that corresponds with their gender identity). Though LGBTQ acceptance continues to improve, some of the survey’s findings show how far we still have to go. For example, six out of 10 LGBTQ students say somebody has tried to convince them to change their sexual orientation or gender identity. One in three LGBTQ kids say they’ve been threatened or physically harmed due to their identity.
It can still be a cruel world for LGBTQ youth, but one solace is athletic involvement. The survey finds 36 percent of cisgender LGBTQ students who play sports receive mostly A’s in school, compared to 27 percent for those who don’t. The results for trans youth are similar, with 27 percent who play sports saying they receive mostly A’s, compared to 19 percent for those who don’t.
Depressive symptoms were 18 percent lower for LGBTQ athletes who participated in the survey as well. Also, respect matters. Transgender and nonbinary youth who reported having pronouns respected by all or most people in their lives attempted suicide at half the rate of those who did not have their pronouns respected.
As we know, there are groups trying to stop transgender kids from playing sports. The most recent battle is unfolding in Idaho, where a federal judge agreed to place a preliminary injunction on the law, HB500, which would block trans athletes from competing in accordance with their gender identity. Lindsay Hecox, a trans woman who wishes to try out for the cross country and track teams at Boise State, was the plaintiff in the lawsuit. “I feel a major sense of relief,” she said in a statement after the ruling came down. “I love running, and part of what I enjoy about the sport is building relationships with a team. I’m a girl, and the right team for me is the girls’ team. It’s time courts recognize that and I am so glad that the court’s ruling does.”
At the international level, World Rugby is proposing a trans ban, garnering backlash from trans rugby players across the globe. We continue to publish their stories at Outsports.
Every child should have the same access to extracurricular activities, including sports. The facts are indisputable: athletic activity is good. Robbing LGBTQ kids of those opportunities is discriminatory, plain and simple.
With the facts in our hands, we should be doing all we can to show sports are for everyone. Limiting access hurts our kids.