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Triathlon making strides to promote equality

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British Triathlon is proud to support Stonewall, the leading organisation in the UK who are at the front of efforts to champion LGBTQ+ equality.

Early November British Triathlon announced its inclusion into the Stonewall Diversity Champions programme, a partnership which will help develop the sport and show that sport is everyone’s game.

Through British Triathlon’s support of Stonewall’s Rainbow Laces  campaign, alongside a number of sports, many LGBTQ+ athletes shared their experience of competing in triathlon. Research undertaken showed that triathlon as a sport is inclusive and welcoming to all, however, British Triathlon is keen for the sport to do more to encourage more people from the LGBTQ+ community to get involved in the sport.

It is LGBT history month this month and triathletes from the LGBT community have shared their experience of participation within triathlon. LGBT history month is a chance to see how organisations like Stonewall have influenced equality so that sports and work environments are more open, diverse and inclusive.

Andrea Avena is openly gay triathlete and involved in the organisation of the Castle Triathlon Series. He explained how triathlon has helped him as an individual and being able to raise awareness of inclusivity.

“Triathlon has been really welcoming. I’ve not experienced any negativity from spectators or from other athletes taking part. Talking to other LGBT triathletes, they have had a similar experience and always felt safe and able to be out in the sport.

“I think it’s important the governing body promotes awareness of LGBT inclusivity as it sends out a positive message that everyone is welcome to take part and enjoy themselves. I think other sports could look at what British Triathlon has done to raise awareness and follow their example.”

Jacob Bayliss is a transgender athlete competing in triathlon. He took the time out to talk about what could be done to improve diversity within the sport.

“It would be great to see more education for coaches on diversity and inclusion when they are taking their qualifications. Coaches have lots of interaction with participants, clubs and volunteers which means the message can reach wider and quicker through their networks.

“Triathlon can be expensive once you have ‘all the gear’, however it doesn’t have to be when you first start out. More messaging around how to get started in the sport through GO TRI and shorter distance triathlons will make the sport more appealing. If this could be linked to how open and inclusive the sport is then it would attract people with less disposable income and from a wider and diverse background.”  

Elliott Packham is an out triathlete and a member of Birmingham Running, Athletics and Triathlon Club (BRAT). He explained how his club recently teamed up with the University of Birmingham and Birmingham LGBT, a local charity, to organise an LGBT specific triathlon swimming session as a way of introducing new people into the sport. The session was very successful and more are being planned for the future.

“Clubs should actively promote inclusivity, including for LGBT athletes, through their website and social media. Clu­bs may think they are inclusive, but unless it’s made clear, a potential new member can’t be sure if they’d be welcome.”

“Of course, this should also be coupled with meaningful action to ensure that the club’s committee and coaches are sufficiently aware of how to create an inclusive environment for everyone. In my experience, British Triathlon are taking really positive steps to help clubs do this and I was pleased that a recent level 2 coaching course I took part in contained a comprehensive section on the Equality Act 2010.”

“The partnership between BRAT and Birmingham LGBT has helped raise awareness that we are an open and inclusive club and this will hopefully encourage more LGBT people in the city to take up triathlon in the future.”

Find read more about real life experienced of LGBT people in British Triathlon please visit our case studies page - www.britishtriathlon.org/rainbowlaces/casestudies

Key British Triathlon LGBT stats for 2017

  • 3.6% of Triathlon members identify as LGBTQ+
  • 3.8% GB Age-Group Team athletes identify as LGBTQ+
  • 7% of GO TRI participants identify as LGBTQ+
  • 93% of LGBTQ+ triathlon participants agree that the triathlon is welcoming to the
  • LGBTQ+ community.

92% agree that spectators are able to be open about being LGBTQ+ at triathlon events.

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