BY ELISABETH MAHASE
On Wednesday 18th November Brunel sports teams took a stand against homophobia in sport by wearing rainbow laces to make it clear that they are welcoming and accepting.
The initiative was lead by UBS Vice President of Student Activities (VPSA) Michael Darlow who was motivated by research from the NUS, who produced a report called‘ Out in Sport - LGBT Students’ Experiences of Sport’ . The report found that in 1 out of 5 sports clubs, students feel they cannot be open about their sexuality.
Concerns were also raised that being open about their sexuality could lead to homophobic, transphobic or bi-phobic abuse, as well as being ostracised or rejected from the club.
The VPSA took to social media to invite students to join the campaign:
The outcomes of this research saddened me, and I am determined to lead Brunel sports clubs in a campaign to eliminate such discrimination and fear of involvement. Looking at practical, visible statements, I’ ve been inspired by the Rainbow Laces Campaign (led by Stonewall), and so, on Wednesday 18th November I’ ve asked every student competing for Brunel to wear rainbow laces.
Chris Meadway, the Sports Federation Chair, reinforced the importance of the campaign:
''Anyone should be able to participate in sport, no matter what sexuality. I am fully behind this campaign as it is a fantastic way to raise awareness about homophobia in sport. I will be lacing up this Wednesday to demonstrate I am in full support.''
LGBT+ Officer Eilis Cronin added:
“As the Union of Brunel Student’ s LGBT+ Liberation Officer I am determined to stamp out homophobia in every aspect of University life, including sport.”
The campaign had an incredible response with all the students playing sport joining in and covering social media in photos and words of support. Brunel Basketball were one of the teams involved, tweeting ‘ We don't care which team you play for! Tackling homophobia in sport!’ alongside their photos.
There was such a buzz that Sport England tweeted the VPSA:'Fantastic to see you all tackling #homophobia in #sport.’
Alumni and staff also joined in, with the Union’ s Chief Executive posting photos of his laces throughout the day as he travelled around.
At the end of the day, Darlow took to Facebook to highlight the incredible response and solidarity shown throughout the university:
'What an absolutely brilliant day, proud to be a Brunelian right now! Every team showed their support for the campaign!'
‘I would like to say a special thanks to certain members of each club, who helped me get the laces out to their members. Without them, the campaign would not of been as much of a success!’
To see all the photos and posts, search #BrunelRainbow and #RainbowLaces in Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.