Stevenage FC are backing Stonewall's Rainbow Laces campaign at Portsmouth tomorrow as the EFL shows its support for lesbian, gay, bi and trans (LGBT) players and fans.
We are asking our fans to join in and say no to discrimination by signing this pledge to ensure our game is inclusive of the LGBT community.
The EFL will be changing their logo to a rainbow design as part of the initiative and players across the leagues will be wearing rainbow coloured laces this weekend.
This weekend’s campaign came about after research from ICM released earlier this year shows that 72 per cent of fans have heard homophobic abuse whilst watching live sports in the past five years.
It was revealed that 18 to 24 year olds are twice as likely to say they would be embarrassed if their favourite player came out as gay (22 per cent), compared to 12 per cent overall. This age group is also twice as likely to agree that anti-LGBT language is harmless if it’s just meant as banter.
Despite this, there are some encouraging trends. Across the general population, 9 in 10 would be either ‘proud’ or ‘neutral’ if their favourite player came out as gay.
The research also shows that the majority of people think that offensive language towards LGBT people in sport is a problem (59 per cent), with young people more likely to identify it as a ‘big problem’.
Nearly two-thirds of people say more should be done to make LGBT people feel accepted in sport.
Ruth Hunt, Stonewall’s Chief Executive, said: ‘While the majority of people see homophobic chants and abuse as a problem, and want to see sport become more welcoming of lesbian gay, bi and trans players and fans, there is a persistent minority who believe this sort of abuse is acceptable.
‘These vocal few may be under the illusion that anti-LGBT language is harmless but it makes lesbian, gay, bi and trans fans and players feel unsafe, unwelcome and unable to be themselves."
Shaun Harvey, Chief Executive of the EFL, echoed those sentiments: “It is imperative that the game is unified in creating a safe and welcoming environment for all and the EFL is committed to providing a positive experience that stretches well beyond the 90 minutes of play.
“We very much welcome the opportunity to work with Stonewall and the LGBT community through the Rainbow Laces campaign. We will support our clubs in ensuring the important campaign messages are heard as we continue to increase awareness and address inequality across all aspects of the game.”
Stonewall has developed a range of measures to tackle the problems raised in the research, including a training programme for sports coaches who work with young people so they can ensure they are making sport inclusive. Click here for more info and to learn about how you can get involved.