by Ross Semple
“Homophobic remarks are flung around on a regular basis”
A new article, part of a PE and school sports series by the Guardian, looks at ways to stop school pupils ‘climbing the school gates’ to avoid PE lessons. Among other reasons, such as unflattering uniforms and limited variety of activities, the article suggests that homophobia in changing rooms prevents some pupils from taking part in PE.
The anonymous writer begins: “The bell rings and once again I have to make the decision whether to climb the school gates or walk to my physical education (PE) lesson. I am not averse to sport – in fact I like keeping fit on the weekends and I’m pretty healthy. But the culture around PE in school means it has become my worst nightmare”
He goes on to explain why: “I am an openly gay teenager and getting changed in front of the other boys, with no privacy, makes me feel desperately uncomfortable.
“Homophobic remarks are flung around on a regular basis, with boys calling each other ‘faggot’ and saying ‘I bet certain boys love it in the changing rooms.’”
The writer suggests a simple remedy for this problem: “A zero-tolerance policy against homophobic slurs and body shaming – even if it’s so-called banter – would make the changing room a more comfortable environment for everyone.”
This insight into the changing rooms comes at a time when more sports stars than ever are publicly discussing their sexualities. Just in the last few months, Olympic skier Gus Kenworthy, and rugby players Keegan Hirst and Sam Stanleyhave all publicly come out as gay. There have also been rumours swirling that two high-profile football players are preparing to come out.
The Guardian’s PE and school sports series is funded by the Youth Sports Trust.