This week, 1000s of schools, sports clubs and community groups are lacing up and pledging support to make sport everyone’s game.
In this post, we hear from school role model, PE teacher and cricket coach Sam Schofield, who highlights the impact of Rainbow Laces at his school and the importance of combatting homophobic, biphobic and transphobic language on and off the pitch.
My experiences as an openly gay sports teacher and sportsman have been varied to say the least. The school environment has been a mixture of good and bad, with language of colleagues and pupils being the main issue. I guess it was a completely different environment for my colleagues to be in, having a gay member of the department, and it took quite a long time for certain words or phrases to stop being used in conversation.
The experience of being outed at the school was not something I would wish on anyone and that made those next couple of months very difficult for me. Even though it shouldn’t really have affected me, I was constantly wondering if the boys were talking about me and what they were saying.
Having said that, the overall impression I get from the kids is that it doesn’t bother them at all.
I haven’t had any negative incidents about me personally; it’s just having to deal with certain language being used.
What really made me open my eyes to how accepting people are nowadays, is when I found out that a member of one of the sides I coached had known for longer than I thought. But their attitudes and behaviours had not changed towards me at all. The school should take great credit for that.
Within a sporting environment, it has not been a problem. I play for a local cricket club where everyone has been very accepting, apart from a couple of language issues.
I wear Rainbow Laces in my cricket spikes, which has built awareness amongst my team mates and opposition players.
I also helped get the laces introduced into my school, where we had a ‘Homophobia in Sport’ awareness week and most of the sports staff wore the laces in their trainers for the summer term. Over 200 pairs were sold and the majority of the pupils wore them in their trainers and cricket spikes for the summer.
The success of the Rainbow Laces campaign helped me decide to be a part of Stonewall’s school role models programme, because of the impact laces had on my school and the awareness that was created. Reaching as many schools as possible with messages of LGBT inclusion in sport and the importance of combatting anti-LGBT language is massively important for the future of LGBTQ kids and the wider community.
To help as many people as possible who are going through a tough time can only be a good thing.
Find out more
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