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The Influence of Sexual Minority-Focused Sport Group Involvement on the Well-Being of Sexual Minorities

Steven Mock - SRG 2011

University of Waterloo



Homophobic stigmatization leads to alienation and poor self-concept with negative consequences for mental health known as minority stress (Meyer, 2003a). Sexual minority-focused sport group involvement provides a promising context for counteracting minority stress. Recent research suggests these groups offer relief from homophobia sometimes encountered in sport contexts (J ones & McCarthy, 2010 ) and provide the camaraderie and social support that are some of the key reasons why sport contributes to psychological well-being (Mannell, 2007; Shaw, Kleiber & Caldwell, 1995).

Sexual Minority Sport Group Project

For this project, we seek to understand the role of sexual minority-focused sport group involvement in counteracting the negative consequences of minority stress. Diverse sexual minority-focused sport groups will be approached (e.g., curling, hockey, softball) and 250 adults will be surveyed about their degree of involvement in the groups and the degree of support and affiliation gained through group involvement. The impact of sport group involvement on self-concept and psychological well-being will be studied over time. This project will be carried out by a team of researchers with expertise in adaptation and coping among sexual minority adults (Mock, 2010), the nature of homophobic stigmatization (Rye & Meaney, 2009), and the contribution of leisure and physical activity to psychological well-being and identity development (Mannell, 2007; Shaw, Kleiber & Caldwell, 1995 ).

Contribution of Project to an Understanding of Sport Participation

Although previous research findings are promising, a theoretically-grounded study investigating causal mechanisms with longitudinal research is needed. Specifically, we expect that the support, affiliation, and self-acceptance developed in a sexual minority-focused sport setting will enhance individual identity, identification with the broader sexual minority community, and decrease concealment of identity in other contexts. These processes of identity enhancement are expected to help explain how sport group involvement may lead to better mental health and counteract minority stress.
SIRC is funded by Canadian Heritage