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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The view from the bench : coaches’ perceptions of homonegativity in high school girls’ sports Longpre, Simone

Abstract

This thesis examines how and why homonegativity is manifested in girls' and women's organized, school-based sports. It questions the relationship between the social construction of gender, lesbian and non-heterosexual identity, and the regulation of girls in sports through traditional understandings of gender and sexuality. Of specific interest in this investigation, are the high school coaches of female athletes, their understanding and interpretation of these concepts, and how their beliefs are manifested in their coaching practice. Interviews were conducted with 5 coaches who teach and coach in high schools in the Vancouver School District. The stories of the participants weave a textured account of the relationship between sport, female athletes, coaching and the education system. Their discussions revealed the complexity of the relationship between coach and athlete, how homonegativity is interpreted and challenged in the broader education system, and the position and functioning of school athletics within that system. In addition, the coach's level of awareness and knowledge surrounding issues of oppression and discrimination, along with their personal experience as an athlete, teacher and coach, all contributed to, and informed their coaching practice. While some of the coaches in this study acknowledged or recognized gendered, sexist, heterosexist and homonegative attitudes and behaviors among the students, athletes and teachers in their schools, a number of them did not. It became apparent that homonegativity remains a deeply entrenched systemic problem in the school system. This was further evidenced by the fact that many of the study participants did not possess the knowledge, skills or language necessary to articulate, deconstruct and unveil homonegative behavior as systemic discrimination of non-heterosexuals. As a result subtle and subversive forms of homonegativity went unchallenged and uninterrupted. Those who were making efforts to educate students and athletes regarding homonegativity in sport were functioning in isolation, and had little support or resources to call on to unravel and combat sexual orientation bias.

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