LGBTIQ+ Youth Sport and Recreation Summit

Published 2 September, 2022.

On Wear It Purple Day (August 26), Vicsport and Proud 2 Play hosted an inaugural LGBTIQ+ Youth Sport and Recreation Summit which brought together LGBTIQ+ young people and their allies within the sports industry to discuss the experiences and needs of rainbow people in sport.

The event, which was supported by VicHealth and hosted at Deakin Downtown, saw schools, social groups, youth groups and individuals from throughout Victorian sport and recreation converge on a day which “strives to foster supportive, safe, empowering and inclusive environments for rainbow young people.” The aim was to amplify the voices of the next generation and ensure they were heard by those responsible for shaping the sport and recreation landscape.

“The Summit was an opportunity for sports administrators to hear, first-hand, the barriers that young LGBTIQ+ people face when participating or trying to participate in sport and active recreation spaces,” said Vicsport Participation and Inclusion Manager, Michaela Cook.

“It is important to hear the voices of the younger generations and for our current leaders to take the time to listen as they are the ones who are currently facing the barriers, can see what needs to change in order for sport to be a place for everyone and are willing to assist us in finding the solutions.”

Alongside Vicsport CEO Lisa Hasker, Proud 2 Play CEO Christine Granger and Sash Herceg from VicHealth, Minister for Equality The Hon. Harriet Shing was in attendance and delivered the keynote address. Paralympic rower and AIS Thrive with Pride ambassador Nikki Ayers and Vicsport Youth Advisory Committee Chair Louis Janssen discussed their personal stories as LGBTIQ+ representatives in sport while Handball Victoria’s Sarah Venning, Lacrosse Victoria's Kristen Hutchison and Netball Victoria's Tanya Gamble provided updates on their sport’s Rainbow Roadmap journeys.

“By having a diverse range of presenters, we showcased that one model does not work for everyone and we need to be willing to listen, adapt and accommodate for all,” said Michaela.

“Minister Shing’s speech was a highlight, outlining the ways in which we can be allies, why days like Wear It Purple are important but also how the onus is on everyone to expand visibility for the LGBTIQ+ community and create sustainable change. She shared her own lived experience of being a member of the rainbow community and implored all rainbow young people to be proud of who they are. You are loved, you are accepted, you are valued and wonderful, just the way you are! Equality is not negotiable.”

The second half of the Summit saw attendees split into four groups and rotated around the room where discussion topics were facilitated on:

  • what an LGBTIQ+ inclusive sport looks, sounds and feels like
  • what a good ally is
  • how to engage with the LGBTIQ+ community through structured sport, social sport and/or fan engagement and
  • what good leadership is in this space.

“At the end of that session, we asked all attendees to take some time to reflect on their learnings of the day and write down a commitment or action,” said Michaela.

“Some of them included adding pronouns to digital profiles and email addresses as they recognised that language is power, encouraging and teaching co-workers on how to be inclusive, continuing to push the agenda, asking but never assuming, enquiring with LGBTIQ+ people how to be more supportive, becoming a stronger ally, speaking up for their people and being proud.”

Keen to ensure this event was not a one-off, Michaela will work with Proud 2 Play on a 2023 Summit while Vicsport will continue to recognise and celebrate the rainbow community through upcoming events such as Transgender Awareness Week in November and through the Rainbow Roadmap.

Visit Vicsport’s LGBTIQ+ inclusion webpage here and contact Michaela Cook or Proud 2 Play for more information.

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