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AN OPEN LETTER
THE LGBTQIA+ CHALLENGES IN CYCLING


14 September, 2021
 

Dear British Cycling, Cycling UK, Department for Transport, Sport England, Sustrans & UK Sport ... friends and allies,
 

In November 2020, we published an open letter entitled The Diversity & Inclusion Problem in Cycling. Following this, we are calling on cycling and sporting organisations to acknowledge the specific challenges that LGBTQIA+ people face in cycling; we also seek a commitment to implement solutions which give everyone an equitable chance to ‘ride with pride’.

We are calling for a commitment to the following:

  1. Celebrate lesbian, gay, bi, trans, queer, intersex and ace / asexual (LGBTQIA+) cyclists and their stories, not just on key dates ... but all year round!

  2. Assist with the creation (and strengthening of existing networks) similar to British Cycling's 10 year-old 'Breeze' rides for women, encouraging underrepresented communities to cycle more e.g. ethnically diverse communities, LGBTQIA+ people and people with disabilities 

  3. Adopt strict zero-tolerance policies of biphobia, homophobia, lesbophobia and transphobia (and similar) 

  4. Lobby for reliable LGBTQIA+ cycling participation statistics to be compiled and published by Sport England, Sport Scotland & Sport Wales 

  5. Guarantee LGBTQIA+ cyclists and groups receive funding which is proportional to the size of the LGBTQIA+ population

  6. Ensure organisational representation of LGBTQIA+ people at all levels, and publish workforce makeup statistics detailing the proportion of paid employees 
     

We're ready to enable far greater LGBTQIA+ participation in cycling ... are you?

If so, we believe there are five key challenges preventing much greater LGBTQIA+ participation in cycling, from grassroots to elite level, and everything in-between: acknowledgement, prejudice, visibility, statistics & funding. 


Acknowledgment

LGBTQIA+ people are more likely to earn less, feel lonely, drink / take drugsbe depressedtake their own life and nearly twice as likely to be inactive (affecting their physical and mental health). There are also many stigmas LGBTQIA+ people face; often these manifest from a young age, perhaps because of experience of hate crime or prejudice, not seeing people who ‘look like them’ or having a sense that they are different to others. That's why there are believed to be more than 250+ LGBTIA+ sports groups around the UK, working hard to create safe spaces where people have an opportunity to be their true selves, without fear of prejudice or harassment.

 

We believe opportunities for LGBTQIA+ people to access and enjoy cycling are not equal for many reasons; this can be anything from the cost of owning a bike and accessories, poor experiences of physical education at school or simply a feeling of 'sport / physical activity isn't for me'. We don’t profess to know all the answers; but we’ve tried to highlight the most obvious barriers as we see them, in the hope that meaningful solutions can be put in place.

Prejudice

There have been massive strides in equality for LGBTQIA+ people and allies over recent decades. But prejudice and hate crimes still happen. Regrettably, on 13 June 2021, PRiDE OUT experienced a hate crime during one of our organised rides; a group of men shouted ‘F*CKING QUEERS’ at us repeatedly, whilst they laughed hysterically.

In recent months, we have seen disturbing allegations of homophobia and transphobia surfacing at an elite level in cycling; these have been reported in numerous media outlets:

  • In Clay Davies’ interview in July 2021 with the British Continental and on the BBC LGBT Sport Podcast, he raised issues of ‘homophobic slurs being thrown around, management led issues, nothing being done when anything inappropriate, laddish or homophobic is said' plus 'coaches and team management finding it hilarious.'

  • In another British Continental article, a male junior rider reported ‘laddish behaviour, homophobic slurs and said ‘In my experience, British Cycling does not care about this issue. Countless times I have been at British Cycling-run sessions and a rider has said something homophobic, transphobic ... in front of commissaires and none of them has reacted in the slightest.'

 

On 10 September 2021, six weeks after the allegations, British Cycling released a statement. Chief Executive, Brian Facer said: ‘It has been deeply worrying to read in recent weeks reports about the homophobia and transphobia to which some of our fellow cyclists have been subjectedI wanted to take an opportunity to say this: homophobia and transphobia are not acceptable in our sport.’

Gay elite cyclist Clay Davies opens up about homophobia he’s experienced in sport and the “pretty low baseline of understanding” of LGBTQIA+ inclusion within British Cycling. 

Visibility

If you can’t see it, you can’t aspire to be it’. Visibility can be difficult to quantify, but if you look closely, there are clear signs that visibility of LGBTQIA+ people in cycling is somewhat lacking. 

 

  • In April 2021, ten respected people and organisations wrote to British Cycling to implore they ‘remain on the path to inclusion’ for trans people, but their recent strategy to 2024 makes no reference of trans people whatsoever.

  • David Bradford from Cycling Weekly wrote an article in June 2021 entitled 'Why is the peloton hiding its true colours?, in which it reports, ‘a conspicuous absence of openly LGBTQ+ riders in the pro peloton.’ The article went on to highlight 'of the 978 riders in the men’s pro peloton, none are gay’ and proposed ‘the probability that all are straight is one in ten trillion.’ 

  • In 2020, Sustrans ‘teamed up with ARUP to create a guide to support people in local government and the transport sector to make cycling more inclusive for everyone.’ The 87 page report has reference of multiple demographics, but not LGBTQIA+ people.

  • In the UK, we believe there to be approximately 3,200 cycling clubs, of which 2,000 are registered with British Cycling and 1,000 are registered with Cycling UK. This roughly equates to one cycling club for every 20,875 people in the general population. We know of only three cycling clubs that are primarily focused on getting more LGBTQIA+ people (and allies) cycling around the UK; they are Cycle Out London, PRiDE OUT and Cardiff Queer Bike Gang. Working on the basis that 11.65% of the UK’s ~68 million population is LGBTQIA+ (see why we suggest this in the following paragraph), it equates to only one dedicated cycling club for every 2.6 million LGBTQIA+ people to cycle, potentially 12,649% less safe-spaces compared to the 'general population'. Why does this matter? See the prejudice paragraph above!

Statistics

If you don't know where you've come from, you don't know where you're going’. Governing body, British Cycling’s Strategy to 2024, published in September 2021, talks of increasing participation in cycling across genders and sexual orientation (amongst other demographics) by 10%. Whilst we support this ambitious goal, we are unclear how it will be measured/achieved when reliable LGBTQIA+ cycling participation data does not exist. We have reached out to British Cycling on this and await their thoughts.

The precise size of the LGBTQIA+ population in the UK is unknown and estimates vary greatly:

 

It’s well documented that women, ethnically diverse communities and people with disabilities typically cycle 2-3 times less than white men without disabilities. According to Sport England, cycling is the third most popular physical activity, after walking and fitness activities. Even though participation statistics exist by age, sex, socio-economic background, disability and ethnicity, no participation statistics exist for LGBTQIA+ people; nor is there a single reference of LGBTQIA+ people in Sport England’s Active Lives Survey or their 54-page 10-year-vision document, Uniting The Movement.

Once there is acknowledgement of the issues faced by the LGBTQIA+ community, along with greater visibility and tackling prejudice, we hope organisations such as Sport England will have greater confidence to collect vital sexual orientation and gender identity data. This will help ensure LGBTQIA+ people are not overlooked and feature in future strategies, which promote active lifestyles.

Funding

'Money talks’, and we think it really does! Global Citizen advise: ‘Equality essentially means providing everyone with the same amount of resources, regardless of whether everyone needs them; in other words, each person receives an equal share of resources despite what they already have, or don’t have. Equity is when resources are shared based on what each person needs, in order to adequately level the playing field.' 

Over the past 15 months, PRiDE OUT has engaged in many conversations with 100+ year-old cycling charity Cycling UK​. We have also corresponded with their Chief Executive, Sarah Mitchell. We asked how we could help with greater diversity and inclusion of LGBTQIA+ people in cycling. On 21 December 2020, Sarah wrote to say 'We are in the process of a diversity audit at the moment. We expect that to report in the New Year and will be developing a set of phased actions from those findings. Really appreciate your offer to help but also we wouldn’t want to take advantage of your generosity.' Nine months later, we are yet to hear anything. 

 

In May 2020, we received £1464 from Cycling UK to help establish our cycling group and they published an article about PRiDE OUT. Subsequently we started receiving countless requests from people around the UK, asking if we could put on inclusive LGBTQIA+ bike rides in their area (copies available on request). As a result, we requested additional funding from Cycling UK's Big Bike Revival, which is provided by the Government's 

Department for Transport (DfT). Unfortunately our requests have been repeatedly declined. In July 2021, we submitted a Freedom of Information request, which highlighted Cycling UK has received ~£7 million of taxpayer funding since 2014, but only ~£6629 has been spent directly targeting LGBTQIA+ people, just 0.09%.

And finally...

Over the past 12 months, we have reached out to British Cycling, Cycling UK, the Department for Transport, Sport England, Sustrans and UK Sport to urge more be done about homophobia & transphobia, a lack of LGBTQIA+ participation statistics, inadequate representation of LGBTQIA+ cyclists and unsatisfactory funding.

We sincerely hope this letter communicates our determination to be a part of the solution, through our lived experiences and network of LGBTQIA+ cyclists across the UK. If you share our values, we would love to hear from you and we stand, pedal-ready, to make a meaningful difference to people's lives.


Best wishes,
 

R Hearne


Richard Hearne (he/him)

Cis gay man | #TransAlly | #BlackLivesMatter


Founder & Chairperson

PRiDE OUT


Email: richard@prideout.co.uk

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3️⃣3️⃣1️⃣ Signatories | Last updated: Saturday 25 September 2021, 07:47 (GMT)
 

SIGNED & SUPPORTED BY:

Elite Cyclists

International Elite Cyclists

The Media

LGBTQIA+ Organisations


Cycling/Sport Organisations


Cycling Clubs​​


Sports Clubs

Cyclists & Allies​​​

  • Abby Iseson

  • Adam Hiley - National Asset Information Management Lead, Capita

  • Adam Nichols

  • Adam Trish

  • Adam White

  • Adrian Butler

  • Adrian Golifer

  • Alex Harper

  • Alex Jump

  • Alex Totty

  • AJ Eliot

  • AJ Smith

  • Ash Kapriyelov

  • Amy Boulert

  • Andrea Ingram - Retired cycle coach

  • Anch Warlow - Production Editor, Hello! Magazine

  • Andrew Dignum

  • Andrew Fox

  • Andrew Greaves

  • Andrew Morgan

  • Andy Gerrie

  • Andy Turner

  • Anne-Marie Ratcliffe

  • Antony Morris

  • Anthony Williams

  • Azar Moosa

  • Bea McDonald

  • Ben Finch - Editor

  • Ben Marshall

  • Benjamin White

  • Beth Lidster

  • Bianca Thompson

  • Blake Coxon

  • Boru McCullagh

  • Brandon Goranson

  • Caitlin Brierley

  • Caleb Hayter

  • Catherine Gard

  • Christie Turner

  • Charlotte Fonfara

  • Chiara Gardner

  • Ciara Gostling

  • Chloe Geoghegan

  • Chris Beresford

  • Claire Goodman

  • Claire Keeley

  • Clare Forbes

  • Charles Metcalfe - Support Worker

  • Chris Childs - Manager

  • Chris Moody

  • Christopher Aitchison-Knight

  • Claire Keeley

  • Crispin Youngberg

  • David Stevenson

  • Daniel Owens

  • Danni Capelin

  • David Macdonald - Waste Manager, Dow

  • David Wilcox - Councillor, Bristol City Council

  • Derek Adams

  • Dexter Mansel-Thomas

  • Donna McConnell - News Editor

  • Drew Moore

  • Dr. Daniel Saunders - Consultant Oncologist

  • Emily Harford

  • Elanor Reynolds

  • Elizabeth Campbell

  • Emily Slocombe

  • Emma Maclaren

  • Emma O’Toole

  • Emma Symes

  • Emma Worthington

  • Euan McMorrow

  • Evan Whetsell

  • Evan Whitfield - Sport Activist, Common Goal

  • Felix Whetter

  • Frankie Lemen - Chiropractor

  • Gary Hill

  • Gavin Blackburn

  • Gina Lee

  • Glenn Forrest

  • Glenn Tait

  • Gordon Mackenzie - Firefighter, Scottish Fire & Rescue Service

  • Grace S-W

  • Graeme Gregory

  • Graham Bennett

  • Graham Mulholland

  • Guy Lopez - Healthy Chocolate Florida, LLC.

  • Hannah Cooper

  • Hannah Dyer

  • Hannah Nicklin

  • Hatty Watling

  • Heather Smith

  • Hector Kaye

  • Helen Gordon

  • Henry Dawson

  • Henry Iddon [Photographed PRiDE OUT for Cycling Plus in January 2021]

  • Holly Harkness

  • Holly McCallum

  • Ian Gardner

  • Ian Morton

  • Idris Richards

  • Iona Hassan - Project Lead

  • Ivan Voortmans

  • Jack Bristow

  • Jack Hall

  • Jack Hardwicke - Lecturer, University of Northampton

  • Jacob Day

  • Jake Martin

  • James Arnold

  • Jamie Sayers

  • James Spackman - Founder, Pursuit Agency Ltd

  • Jason France

  • Jax Lawson-McBrien

  • Jay Dobson

  • Jem Richards

  • Jen Lemen - Surveyor

  • Jesse Yates

  • Joanne O'Neil

  • Joanne Ioannou - Business Owner, Travel Counsellors

  • Jo Postle

  • Jody Blake

  • Jody Fletcher

  • John Maguire

  • Jonathan Reed

  • Joseph Earley

  • Josh Hemmings

  • Julie Carrick

  • Julie Van Mele

  • Justine Elliott

  • Karly Edge

  • Kat Young

  • Kate Wynne-Jones

  • Kati Wood

  • Katy Madgwick - WriteBikeRepeat.Com

  • Keith Blakemore-Noble - Hypnotherapist, Blakemore-Noble Ltd

  • Kevin Colley - LGBTQ+ Lifestyle & Business Coach

  • Kevin Brennan - Partner, Build Studio

  • Kirsty Chestnutt

  • Kris Wright

  • LA Sangster (she/her)

  • Lala Karolina - Student

  • Lawrence Ward

  • Lenore Humes

  • Liam Mealey

  • Lisa Hathway

  • Lisa Thake

  • Lorraine Thorn - Fitness Instructor

  • Lou Wieclawik

  • Marcel Peters

  • Martin Vilster

  • Matilda Price

  • Matt Holland

  • Matthew Butt

  • Matthew Dennis

  • Matthew Edmonds

  • Max McCaffrey

  • Melanie Dyson

  • Melanie Lamb - Senior Clinical Lead

  • Michael Duffield

  • Michal Serafin

  • Michael Ruppli

  • Michael Slatkin

  • Michelle Morris

  • Mike Spencer

  • Mike Underwood

  • Miriam Vermeulen

  • Mollie Bilner

  • Natalie McGrath - Writer

  • Nicholas Brown

  • Nicholas Kerkham

  • Nicholas Vitti

  • Nicola Clements

  • Nick Fahy

  • Nigel Atkins

  • Noémie Gros

  • Oliver Mackey

  • Oliver Moors

  • P Quaide

  • Paul Gruffudd McNeil

  • Paul Levene

  • Pedro Borges

  • Peter Barnes

  • Peter Dymoke

  • Phil Catlow

  • Phillip Trzcinski

  • Porcia Thêa Cato

  • Pascal Loizeau - University of Bath

  • Rachael Townend - Crow Archaeolgy

  • Rebecca Chaplow

  • Rebecca Chatteris

  • Richard Birtwhistle

  • Rhianne Naisbitt - English Teacher

  • Rich Thyer

  • Rhodri O

  • Rob Armstrong

  • Rob Bounds

  • Rob Butchart

  • Robert Otley

  • Robin Figueirado

  • Robin Ireland

  • Roland Tomlinson

  • Rosie Mansfield

  • Rosie McClure - Social Services

  • Rowan McSherry

  • Sadhbh O'Shea - Journalist

  • Salina Wells

  • Sally Thomas

  • Sam Gray

  • Sam Mould

  • Sam Robertson

  • Sam Trzyzewski

  • Samuel Shaw

  • Sandy Sullivan - LGBTQIA+ ally

  • Sara Goncalves Ramos

  • Sarah Jones

  • Sarah Webb

  • Scott Thompson - British Colombia Government

  • Simon Hughes

  • Simon Vibert

  • Sly Mars

  • Sonia Hidalgo Moreno

  • Spencer Haugh

  • Stefanie Doelle

  • Stephen Minchin

  • Steve Macpherson

  • Susan Hoare - Retired

  • Terri Foster

  • Thomas Eke - Lecturer, New City College

  • Tim Puntis

  • Tina Walker - Cycle Instructor

  • Tom Cullen

  • Tom Rees-Davies

  • Valerie Ma - Group Financial Controller

  • Varun Jyothykumar

  • Vernon Botha

  • Vicky Smith

  • Vivien Hawes

  • Wendy Miller

  • Will Myers

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