MELBOURNE: A new Victoria University study, funded by mental health agency beyondblue, will look at the impact homophobia has on young people involved in sports, with existing research showing that sport and physical education are significant environments in which homophobic bullying takes place.
The research project, launched last night at Victoria’s State Library by Mental Health Minister, Mary Wooldridge, and beyondblue chairman Jeff Kennett, will be led by Dr Caroline Symons who is widely regarded as one of the country’s leading experts into sporting cultures and environments.
|“Studies elsewhere in the world show that homophobic bullying of young people leads to serious mental health problems from depression and anxiety to suicide, but the picture in Victoria is far from clear,” Symons said.|
The research will involve surveying young people throughout Victoria aged 14-23 about their experiences of sexuality-based bullying and how this has affected their health and wellbeing.
The project, funded by a $122,000 grant from beyondblue, will build on Symons’s groundbreaking 2010 report ‘Come Out To Play’ which found widespread homophobia prevalent across sporting clubs in urban Victoria..
“Our earlier work revealed homophobia is a serious concern in club sport in urbanised areas. Now we want to extend the reach of our investigation to look at school sport, PE classes and club sport across Victoria, including country regions,” Symons said.
The announcement of beyondblue’s funding of the project comes only months after the national mental health iniative was criticised by many within the LGBTI community and elsewhere for not committing enough funds and research for LGBTI-related mental health isssues.
While in September, the organisation was forced to apologise to the gay and lesbian community after Kennett wrote a newspaper article claiming that children with a married mother and father were more likely to be happy and well-adjusted compared to the children of gay couples