How do we keep the inclusion of LGBTQ people on the agenda?
Think Tank 3 of the Play by the Rules series of online forums asks the question how do we keep the inclusion of LGBTQ people on the agenda in a post COVID-19 world. We hear from Dr Ryan Storr and Christine Grainger from Proud to Play and Beau Newell from Pride in Sport.
These are extraordinary times, the presence of COVID-19 means that each and every one of us, each and every one of us is facing our toughest ever opposition, although we stand apart if we work together as a team, as a team, and play by the rules, and play by the rules. We'll see you get back to playing and watching the sport that we love.
We need your support now more than ever, more than ever. Wash your hands and listen to the advice. If we play by the rules, we'll all get through this together.
Hello, hello, welcome, everybody, to the third think tank in our series of the Post, the post Community Sport Post COVID-19 series. My name is Peter Downs, manager of Play by the Rules. Today, we're going to be looking at asking the question, how do we keep the inclusion of LGBTQ people on the agenda in the months ahead in a post COVID-19 world. Before we start, though, we're going to get straight into it in a second. Before we start, particularly because this is Reconciliation Week, I want to acknowledge the traditional owners of the lands in which we're all sitting now and pay my respects to elders, past, present and merging. So how do we keep the inclusion of LGBTQ people on the agenda in the months ahead? There's been a phenomenal amount of work around inclusion, diversity in this area over the past few years, and particularly by organisations like Proud to Play in Pride in Sport. And I'm really happy to say that we we have representatives from those organisations here today. We want to hear your questions, have your comments and questions. So please do that. I'll be monitoring that on the on the screen here and we'll have a Q&A session at the end as well for the last 10 minutes or so. But first, let me introduce to you our first speaker today, Dr. Ryan Storr.
Ryan, can you hear me okay? Yeah, I can hear.
Excellent. Excellent. Ryan Well, I'm gonna ask you the question, Ryan, about what you introduce yourself in in a second. But let me ask you the let me ask you the question. Why is it still important? What? Why are we. Why is inclusion still important? Fact more important now to drive in the post COVID-19 world than previously? Why? Why is it still important?
It's still important because it must be made a lot of progress and there's really good opportunity in order to try to include LGBT people going and call it from sport for development lens. We know that the power of sport can do a wide range of things and it can be called upon by governments, organisations to try to achieve social outcomes. When LGBT people do suffer disproportionate levels of health inequalities, especially our mental health, sport can only provide a good platform to try and connect people and to lead to positive outcomes.
So what in the future? Leading on from that then what? It's still important. Now, how can we when we emphasise that importance in the future?
I think it lies with showing the impact that sport can have. So I I'll kind of talk about later. We know that there's a large body of evidence to show that sport can be discriminatory. And it doesn't provide safe spaces all the time for LGBT people. But LGBT people do play and engage with sport and exercise in particular. So we need to start documenting the positive impact it can have. And I think once we kind of build an evidence base around how we can positively impact, I think that will provide sports a bit more tangible evidence in terms of why they should be doing this type of work.
Yeah. Yeah, sure. I'm going to leave you on the screen. There Ryan. Switch to Christine. Christine Grainger. Hi, Christine.
Good, Peter. How are you? Good, good. Thanks. Good.
What impact do you think that new world that we're in right now and for the immediate future? What what are some of the challenges facing now in terms of a drive towards inclusion? And possibly then we'll start to look at more of the opportunities and the positives that could come out of this as well?
Yeah, sure. I think as an industry, we've been hit really hard by COVID. I think that's evident from the elite level right down to the grassroots. We have communities that are already marginalised in the LGBTQI+ community is one of those that's probably more marginalised than some and has been a lot of work over recent years. But we know that anecdotally those groups are more greatly impacted by COVID. It's a bit of a sweeping statement, but tend to be in low paid industries and jobs. And that has Ryan touched on have higher rates of mental health issues such as diet, anxiety and depression. So what we know from talking to people in the community is that we're seeing an increase of the impacts of COVID on anxiety and depression within our community. And we know that financially it's having an impact on a large percentage of our community as well. So when we have an industry that is looking to return to play, which is great.
I think we have to look at how do we make sure the work that we've done and achieved in the space doesn't go backwards because the priority for good reasons is around getting people back, playing, you know, getting them onto the fields, making sure that we can maintain the people that we do have and getting them back in.
But do we run the risk of further isolating and marginalising our at risk communities even more so unintentionally? Is there a risk that that will happen as a result of the position we currently find ourselves in?
Yeah. What what do you think? What do you think, I'll introduce Beau Newell as well. Do you think that's a possibility as well, Beau?
Yeah, I think it is. I think we're in a position now Pete where we've got sports that are in unchartered territory. And the way I see it, I'm a I'm a half glass full person and I think for sport in Australia, we now have an amazing opportunity to reshape and reimagine the way we look at its work, not just for the LGBTQ sector, but for all areas of diversity, inclusion that require our attention. That's both because the reality is that we don't focus on it. We'll feel the impacts much further than what this COVID-19 pandemic is causing us. Yeah, yeah.
And I'll switch back. I'm gonna be at random here, but that's okay. I think we can we can handle it. Chris, Christine. Then I guess one of the goals of all inclusion is, is to really not to be focussing along along inclusion diversity lines and to be totally accepted as part of normal business there. Do you think this actually could accelerate that that kind of thinking in the future or not, as the case may be?
I think as both touched on, I think it's a really good opportunity for us to have an inclusion lens inclusion lens across the institutions as a whole. I think that a number of sports, you know, take inclusion quite seriously but as some of the research that Ryan's touched on, it's not always supported at an institutional level. So there may be specialised roles within the organisation, but it's not across, say, your membership team necessarily, or you'll find engagement team, your elite pathways, that side of stuff. So I think this poses a really good opportunity for us to be able to look at our industry as a whole and make sure that there is the inclusion lens across every aspect of the work that we do, whether that be LGBTQI, cultural diversity, disability. It's not something that should be the role of an individual person or people. It should definitely be something that sits across every role, role within an organisation.
Is the kind of a thing that's emerged from the past. Certainly the first think tanks that were certainly discussed. Ryan, can I get your thoughts around that? Had we embed it as core business as opposed to being separate kind of business and a business in this environment which could be lost? That's one of the fears. And one of the reasons behind these Think Tanks is that some of these inclusion diversity could be lost, particularly where there are positions no longer in sports that are driving inclusion and diversity.
Yeah, I think a really interesting point in terms of how do we keep on the agenda for many sports? In reality, wasn't on the agenda and they haven't actively engaged with this type of diversity and previously for whatever reason. And so now is a perfect example to actually get it on the agenda and to try and engage with it and to try and do meaningful work around it. And what we've seen in the sports sector is kind of some diverse inclusion positions go in the COVID-19 pandemic and so unfortunately it leaves a bit of a gap. I guess that's quite reflective of where sports organisations see diverse inclusion work. So. Previous work I've done witin my PhD looks at that, at that basically and sports don't see it as their core work. They see it peripheral to their everyday activities, which is probably why it might be the first job to go. But in the grand scheme of things, Australian society is a very diverse place and it's a sport participation. Engagement should be reflective of the communities that sport seek to serve. Now, if you think about it's very difficult to give estimates around the prevalence of LGBT people, and especially because we don't collect that type data in the survey here in Australia or elsewhere. But what we do know is that it's maybe let's say it's about 10 per cent, 10 to 15 per cent of the population is often estimates. That's a very large percentage of society that you're not engaging in. It's fluid and ultimately, if you don't have inclusive policies and practises. So by embedding it within the work of your organisation, what you need to engage with LGBT people when I've done research, looking at administration, for example, is often quite difficult for me to find LGBT administrators. And that's mainly because they're not out or they don't feel comfortable talking in a public forum. So what we need to basically do is to try and increase kind of that sport development pyramid. We need more LGBT people going into it. So we need more coaches. We need more officials. We need more board members, want to have active participation of LGBT people across all levels of sports and not just playing.
We need them in the boardrooms. We need them in the coaching positions. Once we have that, it will be very easy to kind of ready this type of inclusion because we hear from those voices and we kind of embed it. So it's really important that it's kind of seen as everyday work and it's not in seen as we'll get to that when we have money or resources. Yes, you might need money, but the end of the day I'm quite firm on you don't need money to have an attitude and a commitment to to want to do this work, often the what I've done previously shows that once you have that commitment funding might far more positive things might happen. But initially, you just need that desire to kind of make a difference. And especially I think we really will reach that, especially in terms of some European countries in their kind of welfare, gender, in sport. I think we'll actively look more towards sport to try and actually we redevelop communities, community and regeneration, trying to help mental health. And we really focus on that participation aspect.
Yeah, it's it's positive. It kind of leads us in nicely to jumping around to the questions already. But this question leads into what we're going to talk about with Beau as well. So I'll pose a question from Aaron, which is a really good leading to what we talked about before.
What new and innovative ideas do you feel will emerge post COVID relevant to inclusion?
So I. Oh, that's great. I think you're asking him. Look, I think that's a really good question, Aaron. I think the answer is probably going to be different for all different sporting codes.
Just for the sheer fact that we're looking at some sporting organisations with the capacity. Some sporting codes also have, I guess, the benefit of not being as impacted from this COVID-19 virus. So that's quite a lot of the smaller sports for example, the ones that aren't fighting for commercial TV rights, they want to be better placed to be able to reinvent the wheel, so to speak, in terms of what initiatives they want to put in place. I think the reality is that we still need to go back to basics in a lot of this work. And while it's amazing if we have individual sporting organisations, that's a specific project or initiative that is brand new and exciting. But like, I think we also need to make sure that we maintain and improve those core values. I use most alternative initiatives that we need to get right most of those things up, a fight to take on. Even simple things like being visible and making sure that we do wave the rainbow flag, but having that contact and having that contact and everything behind all that work so that we can prove that our sporting environment is fun, safe, fair and inclusive.
Yeah. Yeah, you mentioned something that triggered a thought in mind, Beau. A while ago, I was involved in the Fair Go Sport Program. And one thing that really struck me about that and changed my thinking about it was using collateral, having visual reminders. Even the rainbow socks, the flags that they got, that they were really catalysts for discussion in that sense. A very practical thing, very easy thing. But it actually were they were really good signs for generating a positive discourse and discussion around that. And that really struck me at the time. Beau, when you mentioned there, I want to get into some of the practical things that sports can do now to keep this on the agenda. And that certainly came to my mind then.
Yeah. Absolutely. Pete. And I think the important thing for us to remember here is that it's not all doom and gloom for us. I think sporting organisations can actually benefit from the positive impacts of boosting this line of work. So, you know, we can see things like participation rates increased, increased memberships, quite a bit higher attendance, for example. And even one thing that quite a lot of sports don't necessarily think about is winning the war on a candidate recruitment working role. You know, both Christine and Ryan touched on that in terms of making sure that both got the best people in the positions, not just, you know, volunteer roles, but paid roles as well. There's never been a more crucial time to demonstrate how well sport can actually play a role in individuals positive health and wellbeing. I mean, we hear plenty of commentary about this over time, and this shows our encouragement to people to get out there and spend 30 minutes every day doing exercise. But I think now sports can actually use this to prove to people how beneficial being involved thean organisation will be. And in this case, for the LGBTQ community.
That's great stuff, Beau. Great stuff. I got a question for Christine, actually, from Melanie. What are the key partnerships you see as pivotal in continuing inclusion, diversity agendas?
Look, there are a number of key partners we should be working with. I think when we're talking to grassroots support level, it's key that we're engaging with local councils as the landholder's to the facilities, and that ranges from council to council as to how they're allocated. But that's there certainly needs to be a conversation there around what capacity the council have to work with our local clubs and how can we support councils with that. And what's the relationship between the state bodies and their local councils as well? So I think that's one aspect of it. I think as a as an industry, we're quite large and sometimes we don't always communicate very well with each other. So I think the better we can build those communications and those those lines of conversation, the better that will be. Outside of that, we obviously have our peak organisations in terms of SRV and VicHealth within Victoria and each state will have their own organisations.
So I think they're all key stakeholders and they're all key partners in this space. It's just identifying the individual roles and what each of those organisations bring to the aspects of inclusion and how they all work together.
I think sometimes the lines get blurred a little bit and there's a bit of confusion every now and then. But I think that if we have an understanding of who does what and where they sit and what's happening, we can better work towards an inclusive sporting sector.
Yeah. Yeah. And I guess and correct me if I'm wrong, guys, all of our goals have been forever has been to do ourselves out of a job in this way, but we can't do it alone. So, Ryan, I might ask you around that, too. We've all been around for a while and you guys much longer than me in this in this kind of space. Those partnerships are so important. And embedding that commitment within other partners other than yourselves and the regular partners is is really critical moving forward at this time in particular.
Yes. Like, we wouldn't be able to do our work around LGBT inclusion if it wasn't all the sports that I like. I'll use an example of the Sydney Sixers. I've done a lot of work with them over the last couple of years here in Sydney.
I went a bit through research advocacy work now, and we wouldn't be able to get our reach and use that platform to actually bring about change, raise awareness, hold pride games and things like that. So it's really important. We do have our partnerships and again, I guess, maybe the majority of the people on this call the idea of active active ally ships. So the idea that you kind of step up and help, one of the key things I think stem from some of my research is that often in this space, there isn't actually that much ill intent around, like not wanting to help and having prejudiced or negative attitudes or sentiment towards LGBT people. There's just a lack of understanding and education around LGBT inclusion. So often within sports organisations, they don't understand or have the knowledge and how to enact inclusive practises or develop policies. So that's why it's really important to partner in and actually understand and be OK with the fact we don't know how to do this work. We struggle with it and we need some help. And that's why it's been really important. For example, cricket is an example. Sport Recreation Victoria sponsored help with some research with Cricket Victoria we then took the findings from the research. We developed the Pride Cricket program. We run that out with its evaluation. So it was a very joined up approach. And I think that's why the benefit is well into the private plan. We've had Rainbow Sport Alliance, where there's been a range of sports and often this problem around homophobia, let's say it's not necessarily an individual sport problem. And often this finger wagging, especially the media around, that's a that's not an inclusive sport. From the research I've been doing, this is a sector wide problem. So we are all together and to combat homophobia and to produce outcomes for LGBT people within sport and exercise environments. And we need a joined up approach and we need a strategy and start thinking about it as kind of a sector problem rather than a sport problem. Each sport has their own individual things that they might need to work on. But I think the strength of the Rainbow Sport Alliance has been the fact that sports came together. Hey, it worked for us. This didn't work for us. We got trolled in our social media. This is how we responded. We also did that. This a great, great opportunity to share resources around this.
You know, a few organisations have been doing this for some time, and I've seen over the last year or two in particular, that more and more different kinds of organisations are getting involved, which has been which has been terrific It kind of prompted me to ask that around, because Ayden does ask the question, which I might ask to Beau which I think is a reasonable idea. Should there be a broader Inclusion Alliance group developed to oversee the return of sport from an inclusion lens?
Yeah, I would love that Ayden. I think that's a really good question you raised then. I think the reality is I think we'll have a few key organisations that would love to work in that space. I don't know what the difficulties are tied up in that off the ground, but I do love that idea. And look, carrying on from from what Ryan was saying. But let's not beat around the bush. Diversity, inclusion, work is essential work. Nothing less. Now is not the time to slow or stop worsening inclusion work. But today, right now is the opportune time to embed you're LGBTQ inclusion work or the broader inclusion work for that matter into your strategic plan, regardless of what level is currently at. LGBTQ inclusion, is essential and critical work that all sporitng organisations must be doing, because at the end of the day, we're all over by default. So by not focussing and or boosting our D&I work, sporting organisations are saying that their members, their volunteers, their supporters and indeed their workforce is not essential. So until we can remove all these barriers and disparities faced by diverse populations, we need diversity and inclusion to advocate for change, sporting organisations play a vital role regardless of what motivates it. Otherwise they risk were losing out. And in terms of a real quick tool, I always recommend and suggest to people for every levels of sporting organisations. If you're wondering right now what you need to do in the LGBTQ inclusion space. The first thing I would say is have a look at the Australian Pride in Sport Index. This is a national benchmarking tool that lets you compare where you currently sit in terms of your LGBTQ inclusion work comparatively to other sporting organisations of all different levels. That would be the first thing that I'd recommend you have a look at. And then from there, work out where you need help. Wehere you need those partnerships and then engage with the appropriate people. Whether that is Pride in Sport or Proud to Play, a Pride Cup, a researcher for whomever it may be. I would suggest that the first point of call. Yeah. Yeah. Good.
Can I touch on that Peter?
So going back to Ayden's question again. Really good, it's an area that a few of us have looked at previously, because I think the reality is when we talk about inclusion, we tend to put ourselves in our boxes. You know, we do LGBTQI, disability, DSR do disability, Centre for Multicultural Youth. Well, the reality is we have intersections, you know. So it's not just that someone is LGBTQI, they may be a woman and LGBTQI. They may have a disability and be gender diverse. So aside from the fact that we just need to be working together across inclusion, there's also that fact that we can't look at people as this is the issue that impacts you the most. So that's what we're going to focus on. You know, everybody has their own stories and backgrounds and some people will have more than one level of diversity within them. So, yes, we need to work together. And it's something we have discussed previously. And I think part of that comes down to the funding that has made it difficult. People tend to go off to their little streams. But I think if we can get disability, LGBTQI, cultural diversity, women and girls, Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander, you know, in a room together and push the agenda, I think that would be a really strong voice.
Yeah. Can I just touch on this. Yeah. It looked you wanted to Ryan. That's good. Very good question. Yeah.
Just following those two points. I think it's really important that we can all get caught up on doing our own particular areas and we do need to have a joined up approach. One of the things from my experience working with sports administrators, especially people who do diversity and inclusion work, they are doing so much already that being asked to do disability work, LGBTI like it can be very overwhelming. So I think it's really important moving forwards. And I know Christine and I have spoken about this and across the sector. For example, partnering with the Centre for Multicultural Youth have very joined up approach. So we can go to sports organisations is almost like a package project. But I think that needs to be done because I think that will help with the intersectionality. And I think that will help people who are doing this type of work not to be over burdened cause I absolutely understand that there is so much pressure on people doing this work and that sometimes they just don't have the capacity, especially around the administration and things like that. So I think that particular area is something that we'll have to look at. Now, for example, in the U.K., and they have Kick it Out, so Kick it Out and started in football. But now it looks at cross-sport and they look at different aspects and haven't kind of joined up approach, whereas they used to just do racism so that in terms of like comparisons to other other countries. That is one particular approach that they use.
There seems to be a fair amount of support for that with the comments that are that that are coming in. And, you know, I was I was part of that movement years ago and managing a disability support unit. We sat next to indigenous sport unit and we sat then they sat next to the women in sport unit, although we'd have common conversations and common agendas there, we often did our work separately there. And I think there's a great more drive to to look at the commonalities of inclusion, diversity, because there are commonalities. But then consider the differences as well. Can I end by opposing all three of you? The same question. And it's a question that came out to sum up what we've all been talking about, and I'll ask each one of you to respond to it. It was actually from an anonymous source before the think tank.
Thanks, everybody, for your positive comments too.
Christine, I'll start with you. You're in the top left hand corner of the screen here and we'll go clockwise.
People ask the question, what? People are going to be very busy. There'll be less money. We value diversity and respect. But I'm worried that only those who can afford it are really passionate about playing. We'll come back. What can we do?
Yeah, I think the reality is that we don't know how this is going to have impacted on people's individual circumstances. So only as we return to play will we see what our volunteer base is going to be like.
But I think prior to that, there's a conversation to be had about the cost structure of sport. And can we maintain it as it was? It was already relatively expensive in a number of sports for people to get involved, which was an exclusion factor for a number of people. So will it driver exclusion even further? So I think part of the conversation we had earlier about key stakeholders, I think there's a space for the key stakeholders to come together and actually discuss what is the cost of sport and what do we actually need to charge to make this run and to make this function. And then what sort of programming support can we put in place for clubs in order for them to actually be able to survive going forwards? And whether that be through the support of recruitment of volunteers, whether it be through engagement programmes, what does that actually look like? I think the reality is we can't continue operating the way that we were. If we already look at participation stats across the board. They weren't great. So it's probably a really good opportunity for us to look at the cost involved in sport. Having said that, I would say that cost gets thrown around a lot as one of the biggest barriers. However, a lot of the time, transport is a bigger issue. So, you know, whilst we're looking at cost, we also need to look at the other areas in which we can support to get people back into our community sporting clubs.
Excellent, excellent, thanks Christine. Ryan, what can we do?
So I recently did a research project with some young people here in New South Wales. And one of the things that we found that discrimination was quite prominent is still especially in PE and you sport spaces. But they wanted to participate, which is quite a novel finding in terms that we haven't really found that far. So young people especially do want to engage. So one of the things I would suggest as organisations is to think about the offerings that they offer. So if it's a traditional common trend to two times a week, match of a Saturday type thing, we know from some of the research from VicHealth in particular, that that doesn't really fit with everybody. And I think the success of things like Rocket Netball, modified sports and informal sports has been very, very good. And we get a lot of feedback within Proud to Play around informal sports. I know there's a lot of kind of informal sports and things like roller derby and rock climbing. Not necessarily saying that they are informal, but they've got very large queer following because the things that they offer and I think the work that is being done. So I would suggest to sports that they need to think about what their offerings are and how, for example, the LGBT community know about those offerings so they're not partnering with organisations like Pride in Sport and Proud to Play, and how will the LGBT community know that there was a program or project that they can get involved with? So think about social media, marketing strategy plans, all that type of thing. But you could have a really great product. You could have an inclusive sport, but nobody knows about that. Then it doesn't serve anybody.
Yeah, yeah, that's true, that's true. Beau, what can we do?
Yeah. Look at the risk of repeating myself and kind of repeating what Ryan and Christine are saying. I think that is a really good marks. I think for me the only thing I would probably add to this is I see tow parts.
So if we're talking about community and grassroots sporting organisations, the one thing I would encourage you to have is more flexibility.
This has now going beyond just the LGBTI space. If you're a sporting organisation that wants to encourage more people to participate in your club and going off that and on this question, you mentioned Pete, if we've got people that are finding that coming out of this pandemic, there is a bit more of a struggle to participate in sport, have that flexibility with those individuals, have a personal centred approach, and and try and think about things a little bit differently. The other side of the coin is probably addressed more to the top end of sports, a national state and even elite level organisations and even some higher level associations. But the thing I probably can't stress enough for those organisations is use this time right now to refocus your time and energy back on community sports. Now, this isn't this. This isn't a job, but every single sporting organisation, because everyone does it differently. But I think holistically over the last couple of years, we've seen more and more emphasis and focus on the top end of sport, which, don't get me wrong, is great. We all love watching professional sport on TV and, you know, seeing athletes at top end play the game. But the reality is sports have tended to move away their focus in some aspects of community level. And in my opinion, I think that's part of the reason why we've lost the focus on the broader diversity inclusion aspects. This is why we've lost the focus of that other sports centric approach, the flexibility that we need to encourage more people to play, play our sports. So for me, that's that's what I would do.
Yeah. Yeah. I think that I, I agree with you Beau. I think in this time in particular, there has been a re-emphasis on getting back on the field and the higher end of sport. But it's community sport that's going to be the long term game here. And we need to really, really focus on that, particularly where a lot of the people who worked in community sport and development programs are no longer in a job at the moment. So lets really push for that too. As we move forward, it's vital for inclusion, diversity.
Thank you. I can tell you that there's been a lot of comments and very positive comments coming in on a great discussion. I'm going to wind it up there, though. So thank you, Christine, Ryan and Beau in particular, for your thoughts and ideas and comments there today. Really appreciate that. Everybody, keep up the great work in that in that way. And the recording of this webinar will be on play by the rules, usually within a week with a full transcript as well. I am attempting to put the questions and comments if there are outstanding questions that we didn't get time to address here on there as well. So look out for that and for future Think Tanks as well.
So, once again, thank you. And keep up the great work, Christine, Ryan and Beau, and hopefully we'll be able to see you in future Think Tanks and keep an eye out for those coming up in the weeks ahead. Thanks very much, everybody, for tuning in. And we'll see you in the next Think Tank.
These are extraordinary times.
The presence of COVID-19 means that each and every one of us, each and every one of us is facing our toughest ever opposition, although we stand apart if we work together as a team, as a team, and play by the rules, and play by the rules, we'll soon get back to playing and watching the sport that we love.
We need your support now more than ever, more than ever. Wash your hands and listen to the advice. If we play by the rules. We'll all get through this together.