An investigation of male college athletes’ attitudes toward sexual-orientation

Richard M Southall, Mark S Nagel, Eric Anderson, Fritz G Polite, Crystal Southall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Multiple studies have found homophobic cultures within intercollegiate athletic departments. Accordingly, intolerance of gay/lesbian athletes (while most often forbidden by university policy), may still exist. Many “straight” athletes feel gay/lesbian/bi-sexual (GLB) athletes do not “belong” in college sport. In addition, female sport participants are frequently assumed to be lesbians. Within this social milieu, this study surveyed 698 male and female college athletes from four Division I & III universities in a traditionally conservative region, the Southeastern United States, to determine their attitudes toward sexual orientation. The primary research questions were: (a) “What are college-athletes’ attitudes toward sexual orientation?” and (b) “Is there a significant relationship between athletes’ gender and expressed attitudes toward sexual orientation?” Specifically, this study focused on an examination and discussion of male college athletes’ attitudes toward sexual orientation. Results confirm a relationship between athletes’ gender and their sexual-orientation attitudes, specifically the existence of a higher degree of sexual prejudice among male college athletes. This research reveals that while homophobia is quickly eroding - even in the American South - there still exists a need for both expanded research of college athletes’ sexual-orientation attitudes as well as an expansion of educational programs for male college athletes, college athletic administrators and faculty, since 28% of male athlete respondents still reported being homophobic.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)62-77
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Issues in Intercollegiate Athletics
Volume2009 Special Issue
Publication statusPublished - 2009


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