Anti-marriage equality statements made this week by Burlington-based hockey agent Todd Reynolds and Rogers Sportsnet broadcaster Damian Goddard are, unfortunately, not isolated incidents. Homophobia in sports is rampant. Out lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) athletes are few and far between. Vocal allies of LGBT athletes are scarce. The high profile of these latest comments reveals only the tip of a mountain of hostile attitudes toward the LGBT community, and to equality rights for all.
Egale’s First National Climate Survey on Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia in Canadian Schools reveals that two thirds (64%) of LGBTQ students and 61% of students with LGBTQ parents feel unsafe at school. The two school spaces most commonly experienced as unsafe by these students are Phys. Ed. change rooms and washrooms. Even more alarming, 20% of LGBTQ students and almost 10% of non-LGBTQ students reported being physically harassed or assaulted about their perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. In this context, anti-LGBT comments like those of Reynolds and Goddard only add fuel to the fire, encouraging the homophobic bullying, harassment and violence that infects our schools on a daily basis. As public figures and role models to youth across Canada and the United States, they should be deeply ashamed of their disgusting behaviour.
As we prepare to mark the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT) next Tuesday, May 17, more than anything it is compassion and a vocal commitment to equality that our young people, both straight and LGBT, desperately need to see from their role models in professional sports.