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19-09-2019 | Original Paper | Uitgave 1/2020

Journal of Child and Family Studies 1/2020

Coming Out in Family and Sports-related Contexts among Young Italian Gay and Lesbian Athletes: The Mediation Effect of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Attitude

Journal of Child and Family Studies > Uitgave 1/2020
Jessica Pistella, Fausta Rosati, Salvatore Ioverno, Laura Girelli, Fiorenzo Laghi, Fabio Lucidi, Roberto Baiocco
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This research aims to investigate the relationship between coming out to family and coming out in sports for lesbian and gay athletes and to examine the internalization of sexual prejudice as a potential mediator of this relationship.


For this purpose, disclosure of sexual orientation to family, coming out in sports and internalized sexual prejudice in sports-related contexts, age, gender, socioeconomic status, education level, political orientation, type of sport (individual vs. team sport), years of sports participation were assessed on an Italian sample of 113 lesbian athletes and 63 gay athletes between 18 and 35 years of age.


Findings indicated that coming out to family was significantly associated with coming out in sports. In addition, the internalization of negative attitudes toward the visibility of lesbian and gay athletes in sport settings partially mediated the relationship between coming out to family and coming out in sports.


These findings suggest that prior experiences of coming out in family contexts may provide additional resources to prevent the internalization of sexual prejudice, and this may promote the coming out in other life contexts. Moreover, we recommend that more efforts should be made to support sexual minority athletes who are not able to disclose their identity in sports environments. Research implications and directions for future research are discussed.

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