The BAC is developing plans to launch a cross-sport, athlete-led support network for LGBT athletes within elite sport.
As part of Pride Month, the organisation is taking steps to finalise its work in this area, which will allow athletes of all ages and backgrounds, from across Olympic and Paralympic sport, to share a safe, inclusive space in which to discuss experiences, share advice and ensure that LGBT issues are given necessary attention within elite sport.
Working alongside organisations such as UK Sport and the EIS, the BAC has gathered insight from athletes, ex-athletes and those running similar, existing single-sport groups, to ensure that the network provides the necessary outlet for athletes.
Emma Speer, the BAC’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Lead, explains:
“There are many organisations within individual sports that are doing fantastic work in ensuring that LGBT competitors at all levels are welcomed, supported and encouraged.
“However via our conversations with athletes, it has become apparent that the lack of a cross-sport group for elite athletes was something which needed to be addressed, and we are working to build something which we believe will give LGBT athletes and allies a valuable opportunity to share experiences and build connections, which will continue to make the sporting environment more welcoming and inclusive.
“Sportspeople have an enormous role to play in driving societal issues forward – as we have seen with the recent reaction to footballer Jake Daniels’ decision to come out. We are determined to play our part in creating an environment in which athletes can live and compete as their authentic selves, and can inspire others in doing so.”
Natalie Powell, world, European and Commonwealth medallist in judo, says:
“From my experience, the most powerful things which allowed me to come to terms with my sexuality were, firstly, listening to the experiences of others in similar situations, then secondly, having people to talk to who made me feel supported. Therefore, I think launching an LGBT network within the BAC membership is a brilliant idea.”
Dr Kate Baker, Director of Performance at UK Sport, said:
“At UK Sport, we’re committed to building a more inclusive and diverse community of sports, staff and athletes to ensure that the only barrier to sporting success is potential. I am delighted that the BAC is helping drive our ambition forward through the creation of this new cross-sport LGBT network to support and engage LGBT athletes on World Class Programmes.
“Evidence suggests that people perform better when they can be their authentic selves. It’s important that our athletes have a safe space where they can raise challenges and concerns to help us build an inclusive environment in which they can truly thrive.
“We wish the BAC every success with this initiative and hope the new network will help in nurturing both current athletes and champions of the future.”
Abi Lewis, HR Officer and Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Lead at the EIS, added:
“We are looking forward to collaborating and working with the BAC on this LGBT network for athletes within high performance sport. At the EIS, we have our own Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Working Group to support our people, educate and encourage positive conversation. Our Performance Lifestyle team also created an EDI Working Group to support athletes, with great success already seen in the Pride in Water initiative with British Swimming.
“All of these initiatives help to create positive impact, and so we welcome efforts by the BAC to create another safe, inclusive space to continue to increase awareness of LGBT issues within elite sport.”
The BAC is inviting suggestions and contributions from all current or former elite athletes, as it continues to finalise the exact details of the network. If you are interested in contributing, please contact Emma Speer.