New research report examines equality within Scotland's sport sector

27th January 2016

New research report examines equality within Scotland's sport sector

LEAP Sports welcomes a new report released by sportscotland and the Equality and Human Rights Commission which explores equality and sport in Scotland.

The research aims to help improve work within the sport sector in Scotland, in relation to advancing equality, eliminating discrimination and fostering good relations and aims to help organisations across the sport sector drive improvement. Click here to download a copy of the report

Stewart Harris, CEO of sportscotland said “It is pleasing the report outlines that significant progress has been made in recent years in Scotland in raising awareness and understanding of equalities… sportscotland will use this research to refocus and refine our work, provide leadership for the sector, and keep raising awareness of the importance of equality and inclusion. We will continue working in partnership with sports, local authorities and their leisure agencies, clubs, and other sports organisations to achieve better accessibility and inclusion for everyone across Scottish sport.”

Jamie Hepburn, Minister for Sport, Health Improvement and Mental Health, said: “We will study the recommendations and continue to work with sportscotland, the Equality and Human Rights Commission and other partners to reduce inequality and increase participation, in line with our Active Scotland Outcomes Framework”.

Some of the key findings in relation to sexual orientation and gender reassignment from the report include:

  • Whilst there is some evidence around sexual orientation and sports participation, there is a need to develop further knowledge and understanding around: levels of transgender participation in sport; experiences of bisexual people; LGBT people in employment, coaching, leadership or decision making roles; and intersections with race, age and class.
  • Sexual orientation and gender reassignment were rarely mentioned in the survey, and when prompted in focus group discussion it was clear that these inequalities are less well understood and in some cases perceived as “not relevant” to discussions about equality in sport.
  • These were areas that people felt they understood less well, and so required more contextual information about the inequalities that people could experience in sport.
  • Most stakeholders felt that awareness of protected characteristics was increasing, but it was unclear if this was translated into actual change.
  • While some Scottish Governing Bodies of Sport were positive about the focus on equality, some felt that there was now too much focus on equality, and there was also a concern that for some clubs, being ‘open to all’ was seen to be enough.
  • Many of the barriers to participation for LGBT people are common themes shared across people with different protected characteristics: negative experiences of PE; lack of self esteem and body confidence; attitudes of others; facilities; influence of family and peers; and opportunities and pathways.
  • Training in equalities in sport was seen by stakeholders across the board as a key priority for those working in and delivering sport, with strong suggestions that equalities organisations and individuals with protected characteristics should be involved.
  • Inclusion of equality messages within high level plans and strategies can help to raise awareness of the importance of equality. When linked to training programmes, this can strengthen both awareness and knowledge around equalities.
  • Amongst the key activities which the sports sector can take includes: promoting safe environments;having strong policies and procedures; raising awareness of issues; raising the profile of LGBT sports groups and clubs; and using major sports events to educate and inform.
  • Many sports clubs and organisations talked about how impact was viewed in relation to increasing participation across the board and that this often also meant funding and income. This often worked against equalities by making targeted participation strategies less of a priority.

The report highlights challenges in six main areas where work needs to be focused. These are: learning; culture and attitudes; systems and monitoring; involvement and partnerships; coaching and volunteering; and pathways and club development.

LEAP Sports Scotland looks forward to working with many of our partners and colleagues within the sports system to tackle the challenges highlighted, take forward the ideas, consider the gaps, and celebrate the achievements highlighted in this new report.

Written on 27th January 2016.