The Impact of Religion and Ally Identity on Individual Sexual and Gender Prejudice at an NCAA Division II institution

Austin R. Anderson – University of Southern Indiana
Chase M. L. Smith – University of Southern Indiana
Sarah E. Stokowski – University of Arkansas


Few academic studies have explored the intersection of sexuality, religion and sport specifically within the collegiate setting; however, with more than 8,000 NCAA student-athletes that identify as something other than heterosexual (Turk, 2018) there is a need to investigate this marginalized population (Melton, 2013). Grounded within the social categorization framework (Tajfel & Turner, 1979), the purpose of this study was to examine the impact of religion and ally identity on the LGBT climate surrounding student-athletes at an NCAA Division-II institution. Two hundred and sixty-six student-athletes, coaches and administrators (77.8% response rate) completed a modified version of the LGBT campus climate assessment (Yost & Gilmore, 2011). Results suggested that those involved in organized religions that viewed homosexuality as immoral reported significantly more negative sexual and gender prejudice scores than those that identified as non-religious or LGBT allies. Athletic departments that promote inclusivity find that individuals in the LGBT community are more likely to disclose their sexual orientation, decreasing the likelihood of discrimination (Walker & Melton, 2015). Results of this study can assist administrators to improve the LGBT athletic climate and to foster the development of an organizational culture that encourages the saliency of ally identity vis-à-vis religious identity.