Research highlights that same-sex attracted and gender diverse young people (SSAGD) are at significantly greater risk of mental ill-health than their cisgender peers. This is largely due to discrimination, bullying and prejudice based on homophobia and transphobia they experience on a daily basis in families, in schools, at work, in the health care system, in sports, and in the broader community more generally (Robinson, Bansel, Denson Robinson, Ovenden & Davies, 2013; Beyond Blue, 2014; Smith, Jones, Ward et.al, 2014; Byron, Rasmussen, Toussaint et.al, 2016; Strauss, Cook, Winter et.al, 2017; Kang, Robards, Luscombe, Sanci, Hawke, Steinbeck, Jan, Kong, Usherwood, 2018).
This pilot study, conducted with same-sex attracted and gender diverse young people (SSAGD) aged 17-21 in NSW was conducted in order to contribute to positively addressing the increased inclusion of SSAGD young people in sport and physical activities. Young SSAGD people in this research expressed a strong desire to participate in sport and physical exercise, and an awareness of the benefits, however most had experienced numerous forms of discrimination in sport and exercise, especially in PE at school. It is critical that steps are taken to address the violence and discrimination that SSAGD young people experience in sport and exercise environments, including tackling homophobia, biphobia, transphobia and heterosexism. The sporting sector can help make a difference to the health and wellbeing of SSAGD young people by providing equitable and safe access for every young person, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. If young people have positive and affirming experiences in exercise, sport and PE, this can lead to healthy lifelong habits around sport and exercise, and can inspire a new generation of people to play sport.