The first official network for racing’s LGBT+ community has been launched to provide a place where people can find support and camaraderie, influence change and promote a diverse and inclusive industry.
Racing With Pride was launched today (7 September) by the sport’s diversity in racing steering group.
The network is there for all those involved in racing — whether as participants, workforce or fans — who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and other sexual orientations and gender identities, as well as allies of the LGBT+ community.
Broadcaster Clare Balding said the platform is a “welcome innovation”.
“I hope this will encourage more LGBT people already in racing to feel appreciated and supported,” she said.
“Racing is trying hard to embrace a wider audience and to make its own diverse workforce feel confident and comfortable.
“As for those who have yet to discover the beauty of racehorses and the fun of a race day, I look forward to when we can celebrate with the first Pride Racing Festival, which will no doubt have a carnival atmosphere!”
The network’s three main goals are to support, though offering a safe space for people to meet, receive support, have fun and enjoy racing online and in person, promote a better understanding of LGBT+ inclusion to ensure racing is everyone’s sport and encouraging all to step up as allies, and to provide a platform for the sport’s LGBT+ community to have a voice in shaping the industry’s future LGBT+ activity.
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“It is an increasingly challenging time for many in racing and this can be exaggerated for minority groups,” said a statement from the diversity in racing steering group.
“Racing With Pride aims to be a community in which people can find support and camaraderie, as well as influence social change and promote a diverse and fully inclusive industry. Everyone who identifies as LGBT+ should feel able to be their true selves without fear of discrimination.
“It is hoped the network will act as a platform for shaping future activity, for example racing joining Stonewall’s Rainbow Laces activity in November.”
A “rainbow ready for racing” toolkit has been developed in collaboration with Sports Media LGBT+ to help with conversations about inclusion.
“Given the recent coronavirus pandemic, many of us have experienced increased feelings of isolation and loneliness over the past few months, and research shows that these feelings and associated mental health issues are heightened within the LGBT+ community,” said Rose Grissell, head of diversity and inclusion at the British Horseracing Authority.
“We recognise this additional vulnerability and believe now is the right time to ensure racing’s LGBT+ participants and fans feel included and valued.
“Racing With Pride has been developed following recent research in the sport which indicated many individuals who identified as a sexual minority did not feel comfortable ‘coming out’ at work, despite largely positive attitudes towards sexual minority individuals throughout the sport.
“We hope to create a fun and fully inclusive community by providing a safe space for members to come together and share their experiences and to show that British racing understands the need for everyone involved in the industry to feel welcome.”
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