99% of GAA players would support LGBTQ+ teammates if they came out

Recent research found that an overwhelming majority of GAA players would support LGBTQ+ members of their team if they came out.

Two men playing camogie. This article is about out LGBTQ+ GAA players and attitudes towards them.
Image: Via Instagram - @gaelicplayers

According to a new survey, 99% of GAA players would be supportive of their teammates if they came out as LGBTQ+, while 45% of them are already aware of the queer identity of a member of their team.

The research was conducted in recent weeks by the Gaelic Players Association (GPA) together with Newstalk’s Pat Kenny Show. The results will now guide the GPA policy on their work in the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion area.

The survey examined attitudes towards LGBTQ+ people among inter-county GAA players and found that 99% of them would support teammates who decided to come out as queer, while 45% are already aware of an LGBTQ+ member in their team. 714 players from 93% of squads were interviewed for this research, which was based on the players’ perceptions and attitudes, not their experiences.

Already 69% of female players are aware of a teammate that is out, whereas this finding drops to just 10% when it comes to the awareness of male players. The survey also asked whether the respondents believed that a player would face discrimination or prejudice if they came out as LGBTQ+, showing that there is a lower expectation of discrimination among those who already have ‘out’ teammates. 

In fact, only 18% of them believed discrimination could happen, while the figure rises to 50% for the players who are not aware of openly LGBTQ+ teammates. These findings suggest that LGBTQ+ players might have a more positive experience than what is expected if they decided to come out to their GAA teammates.

Commenting on the research findings, GPA CEO Tom Parsons said “We know that equality, diversity and inclusion are really important values to our inter-county players. As the players’ representative body, inclusion aligns with our values of being leaders and creating a culture of caring. We want to ensure everyone is respected and welcomed at all levels of Gaelic games, and for players to be able to be their authentic selves in all areas of their lives.”

He added that the association has “established an LGBTQ+ Working Group and they have identified the importance of allies from outside of the LGBTQ+ community in leading change in the culture and perception of Gaelic games. Therefore, it is very encouraging to see that this data shows a willingness to be supportive and welcoming of an LGBTQ+ teammate.”

Aidan Walsh, Chair of Sporting Pride, a volunteer-run organisation whose mission is to bring sports and the LGBTQ+ community closer together, praised this research and expressed joy about the findings. “In what can be a very lonely and isolating situation, the results will hopefully provide much-needed comfort and relief to any LGBTQ+ inter-county player who is not yet out.”

“When you look at society, despite the elements in the last few weeks, the LGBT community know we’re so ahead of the game at European level regarding the Marriage Equality referendum, having politicians who are out.” he added, “But we don’t have it in sport: sport needs to look at itself and [ask] why is that the case?”

He also spoke about how “locker room culture” is still an issue in male sports especially and how people in sports need to tackle that and start asking questions. “Are male LGBT players being discouraged at a younger age? At the elite level, there’s less and less LGBT players playing because the sport hasn’t been welcoming them at a younger age.” he commented, “It’s an institutional thing that we need to look at for sport in Ireland – the conversation is how this can happen”.

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