Today, on the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia, the Canada Games Council (CGC) reaffirms its commitment to providing a safe and inclusive space for all athletes, coaches, fans, officials, mission staff, and volunteers, free from discrimination and harassment. The CGC is dedicated to hosting inclusive Games that reflect Canada's diversity and provide a platform for everyone to feel safe expressing their gender and sexuality freely.
A Platform for Change
By harnessing the power of sport to bring people together, the CGC believes that it can help combat preconceived notions and stereotypes while strengthening the fabric of Canada. Sport can also serve as a powerful platform to advocate against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia. For example, before the Sochi 2014 Olympic Games, Anastasia Bucsis, a Team Alberta alum from the 2007 Canada Winter Games, came out to highlight the "Gay Propaganda Laws" in Russia. She used her voice to stand up against hate, demonstrating the impact that athletes can have in advancing social change.
Learn more about how Bucsis used her voice to stand up to hate in this episode of the Sports for Social Impact podcast, hosted by fellow Canada Games alum David Thibodeau, who currently serves on the CGC’s Board of Directors.
Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia in Sport
As of 2018, the Canadian census reported that 4% of Canadians aged 15 and older identify as 2SLGBTQIA+, with almost one-third of Canada's 2SLGBTQIA+ population aged 15-25. Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia are still prevalent issues in sport, affecting athletes and coaches alike. Discrimination can take many forms, ranging from overt and obvious forms of discrimination, such as offensive language, to more subtle ways, such as toxic sport atmospheres that discourage 2SLGBTQIA+ athletes from participating.
Thibodeau, who competed for Team New Brunswick at the 2013 Canada Summer Games, has spoken about his own experience in sport:
“When I was starting to come out and accepting who I was, I took a look around me. There were very few out athletes at the time, and even fewer speaking out. All of my friends who were gay also had no interest in sport. I was having a difficult time reconciling my two identities of athlete, and gay. The sports landscape around me was not showing me that I could be a gay athlete. So, I ended up quitting. Increasing representation goes a long way to making young people feel that they can be in these spaces. By talking about this more we can help athletes be their true selves when participating in sport.”
Addressing Discrimination in Sport
To make teams or clubs more inclusive for 2SLGBTQIA+ people, there are several things that sport administrators, coaches, and athletes can do. For example:
• Learn the preferred names and pronouns of the athlete. All individuals have the right to go by the name and pronouns they choose
• Use gender-neutral language such as “hello everyone” instead of “hello boys and girls” or “hey guys”
• Increase the visibility of 2SLGBTQIA+ athletes and coaches by inviting them to speak to your team
• Ensure that team uniforms or dress codes respect an individual's gender identity and gender expression
• Allow trans athletes to compete on the team that matches their gender identity as outlined and supported by the Canada Games Council’s Gender Inclusion Policy
By following these tips and consulting additional resources on 2SLGBTQIA+ inclusion in sport, we can all work together to address discrimination and create a more inclusive environment for everyone. For further discussion on 2SLGBTQIA+ inclusion in sport please see the following resources:
• You Can Play Project: https://www.youcanplayproject.org/
• Coach New Brunswick; A Coach’s Guide: LGBTQI2S Sport Inclusion: http://coachnb.ca/lgbtqi2s-support/
• POV podcast: Eric Radford on overcoming bullying and homophobia in sports: https://www.cbc.ca/sports/podcasts/players-own-voice/eric-radford-pov-podcast-1.4800612
• Coaching Association of Canada; Working with 2SLGBTQ+ Athletes and Coaches: https://coach.ca/working-2slgbtqi-athletes-and-coaches
• Egale In Your Corner: Connecting LGBTQI2S Sport Communities: https://egale.ca/egale-in-action/inyourcorner/
• Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport; Transgender Inclusion and Elite Sport: A Scientific Review: https://cces.ca/node/66935
• Compete Proud: https://competeproud.com/
2SLGBTQIA+ definition: Two-Spirit, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer or Questioning, Intersex, Asexual, and additional sexual orientations and gender identities.
For questions about the Canada Games Council’s policies, please do not hesitate to reach out to email@example.com