With more and more reports of homophobia in sport surfacing across the globe, a new survey has shown that 60% of players from the Australian Ice Hockey League admit to using homophobic slurs in the rink.
The study which is the first of its kind in the world was led by Erik Denison from Monash University and surveyed 146 players who currently play in the league.
Disturbingly, the study found that 60% of players admitted to using homophobic slurs like “fag” or “dyke” in the few weeks prior to the study, and 68% of players had heard their teammates use the derogatory terms.
Additionally, the study found that more than 25% of players had also heard coaches within the league use homophobic slurs.
Speaking about the results, Denison explained that the language didn’t appear to be motivated by homophobia, instead, it was being used for social acceptance and to conform to what is viewed as “normal.”
“We found a very large disconnect between positive attitudes about gay people and the negative language used,” he explained.
“For example, 86% of participants said they did not think it was okay to make jokes about gay people and 77% said they were confident they would stop others bullying a gay teammate.”
“Furthermore, 82% of players believed a gay person would feel welcome on their team, despite homophobic slurs being used regularly.”
Denison went on to say that a massive culture change was needed to stop this negative cycle, which ultimately has been proven to deter LGBTI youth from participating in sport and contribute to high rates of self-harm and suicide.
“Hockey has been a leader in efforts to end homophobic and sexist behaviour and so the results of our research will help the sport to refine the approaches it is taking,” he said.
“It is important to target the underlying cause of the problem, which is what our research will help hockey to do.”
“We also wanted to research hockey because it remains the only major pro sport that’s never had a gay athlete come out either while playing or in retirement.”