In response to news on the release of the Manly Sea Eagles’ Pride jersey, Pride in Sport, the national not-for-profit program that supports Australian sporting organisations and clubs in all aspects of LGBTQ inclusion, has issued the following statement.
“We know that for LGBTQ+ people, visibility is so important. Visible role models, statements by key organisations and policies help to reduce barriers to participation and make people feel safe and included in sport.”
“These things matter because we know that many LGBTQ+ people have concerns about coming out. In all sports, including rugby league, participants can heavily censor themselves over fears of being outed, resulting in detrimental impacts on mental and physical health. We know that these concerns can prevent LGBTQ+ people from participating in sport at all levels, from community to professional.
“This is why initiatives like Pride rounds and Pride jerseys matter. They are a statement from an organisation, signalling that a sport wants people to feel safe to be who they are. These initiatives certainly don’t fix everything, but they are important symbols.
“Sport is such an enormous platform to highlight so many causes and issues that communities experience, as well as demonstrating how sport is intertwined with values that Australian society holds dear, such as inclusion and equality.
“We acknowledge the process and consultative issues mentioned by the Manly Sea Eagles today – and their apology to LGBTQ+ people and any other community members who have had concerns and felt hurt by the media commentary around this issue. Conversation, education and building understanding are key to respectfully moving forward on these important discussions in our communities.
“At its most basic, a Pride jersey signals a fundamental value: everyone should feel safe to play. We strongly support the NRL in its endeavours to continue to uphold values associated with inclusivity, safety and belonging, and we would urge all people to think about these as non-controversial values we can unify around.
“Further, we thank the many athletes and administrators involved in any sport where there are Pride jerseys and Pride rounds for their support. We also want to thank the fans for attending these games, buying the jerseys, and showing their support.
“It matters to people who you may never meet – especially young LGBTQ+ people – but who look at these important acts of solidarity to feel reassured that they are included in a society that welcomes and values them.”
– Andrew Purchas OAM, Pride in Sport Index Co-Founder
David Alexander, ACON Media and Communications
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