Does the liberalization of masculine space improve experiences for sexual minorities?

Eric Anderson , John Batten , Cyd Zeigler, Joey Reed, Rory Magrath, Keith Parry

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North American attitudes are liberalizing toward sexual minorities. This is even found within traditionally conservative, masculine, institutions, like fraternities, religion, and the military. However, evidence for Liberalization Theory is mostly derived from attitudinal change of sexual and gender majorities alongside policy changes, with less evidence from sexual and gender minority experiences. Thus, there remain questions as to whether, or to what degree, improved majority attitudes promote sexual minority experiences. To investigate the impact of liberalization of the masculine organizational culture of team sports, we used survey results from 793 openly lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) high school and collegiate athletes, representing 981 coming out experiences. We find that 92.5% of high school and 97.1% of college athletes’ coming out-of-the-closet to teammates experiences were deemed to be from neutral to perfect. We also found no significant differences in overall experience in being out to teammates in highly masculinized teams sports compared to other sports at either the high school or collegiate level. These results suggest that liberalizing North American sexual majority attitudes do translate into improved LGBT experiences within the socially conservative institution of educationally based team sports.
Original languageEnglish
JournalSociological Research Online
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 15 Apr 2024

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