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Pride-themed matches drastically reduce homophobia in sports, eye-opening study finds

Patrick Kelleher August 26, 2020
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LGBT Pride games sport study

Rainbow laces (GLYN KIRK/AFP via Getty)

Homophobic language is far less common in sport clubs that host Pride-themed games, according to an eye-opening new study.

The research, which was conducted by Monash University in Australia, shows that pro-LGBT+ games aren’t just for show – they actively help to eliminate discrimination in sport, according to The Guardian

The study looked at the prevalence of homophobic slurs among teams in the Australian Ice Hockey League (AIHL), and found that those who had hosted Pride games were much less likely to use homophobic slurs both in and out of the rink.

Teams that had hosted pride games were found to use 40 per cent less homophobic slurs than those that had not taken part in the initiative.

Ice hockey players who had participated in Pride games were significantly less likely to use homophobic slurs, the study found.

Anti-gay slurs such as “faggot” were used much less by the two semi-professional AIHL teams that hosted Pride matches when compared to the rates of four teams that didn’t.

Players self-reported their use of homophobic slurs to researchers, who then analysed the findings and compared them with other teams.

We believe combining Pride games with better communication about why this language is harmful to LGBT+ people is key to stopping this behaviour.

Supplementary research included community cricket, netball, Australian rules football, field hockey and roller derby, with all sports showing a similar trend.

Erik Denison, the study’s lead author, said the results are “very unusual”.

An ice hockey player who used a homophobic slur during a pro-LGBT+ game said it was like ‘swearing in front of his grandmother’.

“Most prejudice reduction interventions fail or have little impact on attitudes and very few have been shown to change behaviours.

“Holding Pride games does not stop discriminatory behaviours but the games seem to mitigate the frequency of homophobic and sexist language used  by players on teams that host the events,” he added.

“We believe combining Pride games with better communication about why this language is harmful to LGBT people is key to stopping this behaviour.”

An unnamed ice hockey player who participated in the study said he used a homophobic slur during a Pride game and said it was like “swearing in front of his grandmother”, according to Denison.

“Being part of the Pride game made him notice the language he was using without any thought. He said he tried hard to stop using this language after the game.”

Related topics: Australia, homophobia in sport, ice hockey, Monash University, Pride, rainbow laces

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