Sep 3, 2020 - Sports

Exclusive: The impact of sports on LGBTQ youth

Sports participation has been linked to higher self-esteem, better grades and lower depressive symptoms among LGBTQ youth, according to The Trevor Project's second-annual mental health survey — the largest of its kind ever conducted.

By the numbers: One in three LGBTQ youth who play sports said they got mostly A's in school, compared to just one in four of those who don't play sports.

  • Depressive symptoms were 18% lower among respondents who participated in sports, according to survey results provided to Axios.
  • Acceptance matters: Transgender and nonbinary youth who reported having pronouns respected by all or most people in their lives attempted suicide at half the rate of those who did not have their pronouns respected.

The big picture: While groups like the Trevor Project advocate for the LGBTQ community, many stand in direct opposition to that fight.

  • Idaho passed a bill in March barring transgender athletes from participating in women's sports, despite limited research to support the claim that higher testosterone levels offer an unfair advantage.
  • But the ban was challenged by Lindsay Hecox — a transgender cross-country runner at Boise State University — and two weeks ago, the ruling was met with an injunction, giving trans athletes at least a temporary victory.

What they're saying: "I'm a girl and the right team for me is the girl's team," said Hecox.

  • On the other side, the bill's sponsor, Rep. Barbara Ehardt (R), said, "The progress that we, as women, have made over the last 50 years will be for naught and we will be forced to be spectators in our own sports."

The bottom line: "LGBTQ youth are not benefiting from sports participation as much as they could. They're already at increased risk for things like depression, so we should be finding ways to be inclusive, not ways to further harm them," said Amy Green, The Trevor Project's director of research.

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