Date of Conferral
Lesbian athletes face criticism and discrimination from coaches, fans, and society. Researchers have suggested that female sport is stigmatized due to perceived masculinity and homosexuality, causing athletes to focus on heterosexual and feminine behaviors. The dichotomy of athleticism and femininity in sports has been extensively studied in the heterosexual population. However, the impact of the overt discrimination and pressure to conform to societal standards of femininity and heterosexuality has not been studied in lesbians. Therefore, the purpose of this quantitative study utilizing survey design was to examine the relationship among sport participation, gender schema, athletic identity, and internalized homophobia. A network-based snowball sampling method was used to survey 226 lesbians, 18 years of age and older. Surveys issued via Internet included the Bem Sex Role Inventory, Athletic Identity Measurement Scale, and the Lesbian Internalized Homophobia Scale. Data were analyzed using Chi-square, t tests, and Pearson Correlation. No significant difference in sports participation was found in lesbians with different gender schemas. There was a significant difference in the athletic identity of participants who were more or less active in sports, but there was no significant difference in internalized homophobia for participants who were more or less active in sports. There was no relationship between athletic identity and internalized homophobia. This study contributes to the existing literature on women and sport. It promotes social change by further investigating the influence of gender schema, athletic identity, and internalized homophobia related to behaviors and attitudes in sports.