Youth sport experience better for children than it was for their LGBTQ parents: Brock research

Early findings from new Brock University research show LGBTQ parents fear their children will face homophobia, rejection and stigma as they start playing youth sports.

“In reality, many of the LGBTQ parents in the study found positive and accepting communities — in some cases, feeling more accepted as a parent than they ever were as a youth who was labeled gay,” says Brock associate professor of Recreation and Leisure Studies Dawn Trussell.

To research LGBTQ issues, Trussell started the Team Family Pride Project which is funded through a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council grant.

“I had been doing research with LGBTQ youth who had been excluded from sport and it made me wonder how LGBTQ parents negotiate the sport domain to support their children in an environment they may not have felt included in,” says Trussell.

We have found the parents in our study want what any parent wants, to have their children accepted and feel a sense of normalcy.

The Team Family Pride Project aims to build a community of support while helping recreational and sport organizations understand how to be more inclusive to LGBTQ parents and their children.

Trussell is now sharing preliminary findings from the research project that used social media channels to bring together more than 70 individuals from Canada, the U.S. and Australia to participate in ongoing dialogue about their experiences as LGBTQ parents.

“This is one of the first works of research to look at the experiences of LGBTQ parents introducing their children into organized youth sports. We have found the parents in our study want what any parent wants, to have their children accepted and feel a sense of normalcy,” says Trussell.

When considering where service and sport organizations can adapt youth programs to better meet the needs of LGBTQ families, two areas were consistent among participants from all three countries: the use of language on forms and broader considerations when event planning.

“Embedded in the culture of sport organizations are assumptions based on the traditional nuclear family. Many consent forms use language which request signatures from mothers and fathers, as opposed to the more inclusive terms of parent and guardian,” explains Trussell.

“Banquets and events specifically designed for fathers and sons or fathers and daughters can also be problematic, so there is a need to confront assumptions about who fills these roles in LGBTQ families.”

Wanting this to be a grass-roots project, Trussell worked with Community Engagement Facilitator, Jennifer Apgar.

“As a lesbian mom, this project was important to me. While there is a positive movement in making social spaces and experiences more inclusive and accepting of diversity, family structures still seem to default to hetero-norms,” says Apgar.

“It is through research like this that small changes in youth recreation and sport organizations could have large impacts on the experiences of families who access them,” she says.

Trussell and the Team Family Pride Project are hopeful that as they build on the preliminary findings and continue to gain insight into the perspectives of both parents and children, they will be able to develop useful resources for youth recreation and sport organizations.

Read more stories in: Featured, Front Page, News, Research
Tagged with: , ,