Coming Out to Your Teammates: Private Schools

It is impossible to state that an LGBT athlete will experience a particular reaction for coming out in a private or Catholic school in contrast to a public school. One may think that a Catholic institution would prove to be an oppressive environment for an LGBT athlete, and while that is certainly the case at certain schools, students have had the opposite experience at other colleges and universities. Of the four cases presented in this blog post, two students had positive coming out experiences within their sports teams, and two students experienced negative reactions from their teammates and coaches to coming out.

An article by Eric Anderson from the University of California mentions the coming out experiences of two student athletes attending separate private universities. At a private university in California, a member of the crew team, Ryan, came out to his coaches and fellow teammates immediately by wearing gay pride jewelry to try-outs. Throughout his experience on the crew team, Ryan never experienced negative comments from his coaches or teammates. However, Ryan knew that a road trip might prove to be a test of this demeanor. Upon traveling, himself and the other athletes assigned to the same room combined the hotel beds together in an effort to show Ryan that they did not feel uncomfortable sharing a bed with him. Ryan’s experience on the crew team at this California University proved to be entirely positive, and he experienced no discrimination based on his sexuality.

Gabriel, a student at a different private university, experienced negative reactions from particular teammates after coming out at a summer running camp. Although this sentiment was not shared by every member of the team, one of his teammates refused to continue with the camp after hearing that Gabriel was gay. Anderson noted that while conducting the research to write this article, most of the athletes he interviewed chose not to let discriminatory behavior on behalf of their teammates or coaches affect them. Anderson also noted that most athletes believed that they were fully accepted by their teammates, but upon further investigation into sharing rooms during travel, the treatment of their partners, and discussions of their homosexuality some athletes came to realize they experienced more discrimination than they had noticed.