News / Vancouver

Gay, lesbian and bisexual teens in B.C. less likely to be involved in sports

Participation in sports has decreased overall and is the gap is widening for LGB youth, according to new UBC study.

The Vancouver Canucks will hit the ice for warm-up Tuesday wearing pride jerseys as part of a National Hockey League-endorsed You Can Play initiative to foster acceptance of all players, regardless of sexual orientation.

The initiative and others like it are an encouraging step, said an author of a new University of B.C. study that finds that gay, lesbian and bisexual (LGB) teens in B.C. are much less likely to be involved in sports than straight teens.

“In every year we measured, LGB youth were about half as likely or even less, to participate in coached sports than straight youth were,” said Elizabeth Saewyc, the report’s senior author, in a press release Wednesday.

“And unfortunately, that gap has persisted and even widened over time.”

The report, the first of its kind to track sport involvement among gay, lesbian and bisexual teens, found that fewer gay youth are involved with sports than 15 years ago. The report used data from the McCreary Centre Society’s B.C. Adolescent Health Survey of almost 100,000 youth across the province.

In 2013, only three in 10 gay male students played sports, down from five in 10 in 1998.

Lesbian girls dropped to 52 per cent down in 2013 from 62 per cent in 1998. Bisexual girls participating in sports dropped to 38 per cent down from 48 per cent; and bisexual boys in sport dropped to 42 per cent down from 59 per cent.

Participation in coached sports decreased for straight boys and girls too, but at a rate less than their LGB peers. In 2013, 68 per cent of straight boys were involved in sports, down from 71 per cent in 1998. Particpation among straight girls dropped to 61 per cent down from 66 per cent over the same time period.

Saewyc, a nursing professor who heads the Stigma and Resilience Among Vulnerable Youth Centre at UBC, said the research did not explain the reason for the increasing gap among LGB youth, but suggested that stigma and discrimination in sports clubs could play a role.

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