#SaturdaySummary: The Trevor Project on LGBTQ Youth Sports Participation


Disclaimer: The goal of Conquer with Na’Kole is to provide education and support for moms (and concerned loved ones) as they conquer the giants that seek to conquer their children. I, Na’Kole Watson, am not a licensed mental health professional nor am I offering professional mental health services or advice. Therefore, I accept no liability or responsibility to anyone as a result of any reliance upon the information produced on this site or in any communication issued by Na’Kole Watson and Conquer with Na’Kole. The views expressed on this and any other affiliated website are my own, and all sources are linked. If you are in crisis, please contact The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255. If this is an emergency, please dial 911 immediately.

#SaturdaySummary – The Trevor Project Research Brief: LGBTQ Youth Sports Participation


The Study

The purpose of this study was to assess the participation of LGBTQ Youth. Youth between the ages of 13-24 participated in this study.



“Data were collected from an online survey conducted between October and December 2020 of 34,759 LGBTQ youth between the ages of 13-24 across the United States recruited via targeted ads on social media.”

Youth were asked the following question: “Compared to your life before the COVID-19 pandemic, how much more or less have you participated in the following activities: Play sports for a school or community league or club”? The responses they could choose from ranged from “I have never participated” to “Much more often”.


The Facts (quoted from study)

  • Between January and September 2021, eight states implemented laws banning transgender youth from participating in school sports (Movement Advancement Project, 2021).
  • Our previous research indicated that sports participation is associated with lower depression among LGBTQ youth, but that LGBTQ athletes are less likely to be out about their LGBTQ identity compared to LGBTQ youth who did not participate in sports (The Trevor Project 2020a, The Trevor Project 2020b).
  • Nearly one in three LGBTQ youth reported participating in sports.
  • 32 percent of LGBTQ youth in our sample reported that they had ever participated in sports for a school or community league or club, compared to 68% who never participated.
  • Among those who participated in sports, 18% reported that they had heard negative things about LGBTQ people from a sports leader or coach, and 16% reported that they had heard positive things about LGBTQ people from a sports leader or coach.
  • Only 4% of LGBTQ youth athletes reported that they would talk to a sports leader or coach if they were having a really hard time or feeling sad, stressed, or depressed.
  • A number of LGBTQ youth reported choosing not to participate in sports due to reasons related to discrimination or fear of LGBTQ-based discrimination.


Lived Experiences

  • One youth stated, “I’m scared I will be harassed because of my sexuality.”
  • Locker rooms were a prominent source of stress for LGBTQ youth.
  • One youth stated that “girls in my class don’t want me to change in the locker room with them because they think I’ll stare at them/hit on them because I’m lesbian.”
  • One youth stated, “I never hated sports, but I hated how I was treated by kids and adults who played sports. The locker room was always a nightmare, the athletic kids at my school hated me, the coaches at my school hated me, and as much as I didn’t care for a lot of mainstream sports in general, I avoided athletic activities out of terror, not disinterest.”
  • LGBTQ youth chose to participate in sports because of the comradery and personal wellness it offered them. Respondents reported that they had met some of their closest friends while participating in sports.


The Future

  • While the broader (non-LGBTQ) population shows that more than half of youth participate in sports, the LGBTQ community statistics show that only 32% of youth participate.
  • Many LGBTQ youth choose not to participate because they do not want to be harassed or bullied because of their sexuality or gender identity.
  • LGBTQ youth also stated that they would not feel comfortable going to their coach or sports leader if they were going through an emotional crisis.
  • There is a great need to educate sports leaders with the tools and resources needed to support LGBTQ youth. The goal is to provide a welcoming and affirming environment.
  • There is a need to highlight the benefits of sports rather than prohibiting youth from being able to participate.
  • No young person should be excluded from friendship and the other positive effects of sports because of their sexual orientation or gender identy.
  • The Trevor Lifeline will continue to provide services for LGBTQ youth who are in crisis.


My Take

More than anything, I want to build a world where ALL tweens and teens feel safe to do WHATEVER they desire to do to better themselves. That’s it and that’s all. I endeavor to do my part to create safe places for LGBTQ youth to speak about their experiences. I also vow to educate mothers about how to properly care for and advocate for LGBTQ youth!


The Resources

Here are some resources that you can make use of if you have a tween or teen who is a member of the LGBTQ community:


The Trevor Project

“Founded in 1998 by the creators of the Academy Award®-winning short film TREVOR, The Trevor Project is the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer & questioning (LGBTQ) young people under 25.”


The Trevor Project also has a 24/7 crisis line that is available by calling 866-488-7386 or texting START to 678678.



Instagram Wellbeing Guide: https://www.thetrevorproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/IG-x-Trevor-Project_LGBTQ-Safety-Guide.pdf


Guide to Being an Ally to Transgender & Nonbinary Youth: https://www.thetrevorproject.org/resources/trevor-support-center/a-guide-to-being-an-ally-to-transgender-and-nonbinary-youth/


Supporting Black LGBTQ Youth Mental Health: https://www.thetrevorproject.org/2020/06/01/supporting-black-lgbtq-youth-mental-health/


Genders & Sexualities Alliance Network

“GSA clubs are student-run organizations that unite LGBTQ+ and allied youth to build community and organize around issues impacting them in their schools and communities.”



LGBTQ SportSafe Inclusion Program

This program provides training and resources to athletic directors and coaches.



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