By Dirk Smith, M.Sc, SDL (He/Him)

Following the Sports Media LGBT+ #AuthenticMe event in which two panels, one on Authenticity in Sport and the other on Grassroots Sport invited sports leaders to come and discuss their experiences and work. Leap Sports Scotland hosted the annual Sport and Physical Activity conference as part of the Erasmus+ funded project, Sporting (S)Equals”. The conference brought out everybody from researchers to sports diversity leaders, young LGBTQ+ sports people and athletes to present about many different topics related to LGBTQ+ sport.

The keynote speech focused specifically on equality and human rights for LGBTQ+ people in sport, especially regarding events like the World Cup and Olympics. Dr. Madeleine Pape, the International Olympic Committee’s Inclusion Specialist focused on the IOC’s Framework for Fairness, Non-Discrimination, and Inclusion. Specifically on the process of developing guidelines for the inclusion of transgender athletes. Pape spoke about the history of trans inclusion in the Olympics and the evolution of policy from the IOC leading to the current guidelines. She also discussed the future work in adapting the policy as scientific research and data becomes more available to ensure that the policy reflects the current science and approaches to ensure full inclusion and fairness in sport.

The conference then split into the first set of breakout sessions featuring panel discussions and presentations on developing community outcomes through sports events, sport, and physical activity for trans and gender diverse children and young people, including non-binary people in sport, LGBTQ+ changemakers in sport, and the current state of equality/human rights with FIFA and the Qatar World Cup.

Dirk and Zander

Following lunch, the conference featured a live interview with Zander Murray and Jon Holmes from Sports Media LGBT+. Zander Murray is the first openly gay professional football player in Scotland, having come out only weeks before the conference started. The interview talked about Murray’s personal stories and experiences in learning to accept himself as gay, navigating professional soccer as a closeted gay man, his own experiences with homophobia in the sport and the response he has experienced since coming out. He quipped that he knew he could accept himself after finding that he got really into RuPaul’s Drag Race during the pandemic, thus the interview had no shortage of references to Drag Race.

The second set of breakout sessions focused on LBTI women in sport, Scottish Football v Homophobia (the organization), engaging with trans people to improve participation in sport and Improving LGBTQ+ health and wellbeing through physical activity and sport. The last of which our managing editor of sport, Dirk Smith (that’s me!) was invited to present at, you can watch his presentation here!

The conference concluded with brains full, batteries (device and metabolic) drained, but a renewed sense of optimism and knowledge in how to enact positive change for LGBTQ+ people in sport.

Photo Credit: Dirk Smith