The Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) has strengthened its commitment to creating a safe and supportive community for LGBTIQ+ athletes, coaches and staff by becoming a Principal Partner Member of Pride in Sport.
Pride in Sport is Australia’s first and only sporting inclusion program specifically designed to assist sporting organisations with the inclusion of employees, players, volunteers and spectators with diverse genders and sexualities.
AIS CEO Peter Conde said it was important to join other national sporting organisations and become a member of Pride in Sport due to the leadership role the AIS can play in championing LGBTIQ+ inclusion within the organisation and high-performance system.
“LGBTIQ+ athletes, coaches, support staff and volunteers have the right to feel like they belong and are safe to participate in Australian sport,” said Mr Conde.
“This membership will inform how the AIS can create inclusive spaces by reducing homophobia, stigma, and discrimination. We know that when coaches, athletes support staff and volunteers can come to work as their full selves they’ll perform better and enjoy more fulfilled lives. Together we’re ensuring that sport is for everyone.”
To reinforce this aim and celebrate Pride Month, Mr Conde and AIS Director of People Development and Wellbeing Matti Clements teamed up with Australian Water Polo Captain Rowie Webster and gymnast Heath Thorpe to publicly state their support for the LGBTIQ+ community.
For Webster, the AIS’ support for Pride in Sport was welcome news as she prepares to depart for Tokyo for what will be her third Olympic Games.
“I’m really proud of the AIS to have the Pride in Sport membership because it promotes that we are moving in the right direction,” said Webster. “LGBTIQ+ inclusion in sport is really important to me because currently 75 percent of LGBTIQ+ women are still in the closet in the world of sport.
“It needs to be recognised that there is more work to do in making sure that there is a safe environment for athletes in the LGBTIQ+ community to reduce stigma, work collectively together as a team and have role models to look up to.”
Thorpe agreed and added: “It means so much to me as a queer athlete that the AIS has partnered with Pride in Sport. Significant cultural change always needs to come from the top and this is both an impressive and important first step to increasing inclusiveness and diversity within Australian sport.
“Athletes and sporting organisations are incredible role models to so many people around Australia and I’d love to see sporting organisations to continue to use that status and to push the idea that you don’t have to be in the community to support the community,” said Thorpe.
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Image: Rowie Webster – courtesy of AIS