Combating Homophobia in Sport and Physical Education

in Sociology of Sport Journal

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Helen Lenskyj Ontario Institute for Studies in Education

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The discrimination experienced by women in sport in North America has been well documented (e.g., Hall, 1987; Lenskyj, 1986; Uhlir, 1987), and the gains made in the last two decades owe much to the efforts of feminists, both inside and outside sport. However, the situation of lesbians in sport has only recently received attention in academic and professional sport circles, and then only as one aspect of sportswomen’s private lives for which they are subjected to discrimination. And although feminist scholarship of the 1970s and 1980s has investigated the political implications of lesbianism in considerable depth, the specific concerns of lesbians in sport contexts have for the most part been neglected. This paper examines the discrimination faced by lesbians in sport and develops a radical feminist analysis of these experiences. Recent developments in national sports organizations in North America are presented as case studies and analyzed in terms of their political perspective and potential.

An earlier version of this paper was presented at the 1989 conference of the North American Society for the Sociology of Sport, Washington, DC.

Helen Lenskyj is with the Centre for Women’s Studies in Education, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, Toronto, Ont., Canada.

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