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The first in-person meeting of the JUST PEOPLE project took place in Rome from 15 to 18 February 2023. Thanks to the European Union's Erasmus+ Programme, the associations ASD Sparta Pugilato, Asociația Tinerilor cu Initiativa Civica, Club Atlético de Queluz, and Club de Lluta Olimpica La Mina were able to learn about and discuss the role of sport in combating LGBTIQ+ discrimination.

The transnational meeting was divided into two days of work. On the first day, slides were used to present the challenges faced by the LGBTIQ+ community. Following the theoretical part, participants were divided into groups to identify typical gender stereotypes in various everyday environments.

On the second working day, the participants were tasked with developing a video advocacy campaign on the project theme to make the message as accessible a .

Regarding the theoretical part conducted on the first day, the following concepts should be emphasized:

  • Minority: a subordinate or marginalized group that can be defined in terms of ethnicity or based on specific characteristics that stigmatize it, leading to exclusion from full and normal participation in social life, including sports.

  • Gender concept: refers to the differences between women and men that are socially constructed rather than biologically rooted.

  • Gender identity: the internal feeling of belonging to either the male or female gender.

  • Sexual orientation: the emotional, romantic, and/or sexual attraction toward individuals of the opposite, same, or both sexes.

  • Gender stereotype: a generalized view or preconception about the characteristics or roles of women and men. Gender stereotypes can limit the development of natural talents and abilities in both women and men.

  • LGBTQIA+: an acronym representing various gender identities and sexual orientations, including Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, Transgender individuals, Queer/questioning individuals, Intersex individuals, Asexual individuals, Allies (supporters), and other possible identities.

The meeting emphasized that sports coaches can play a role in preventing discrimination based on sexual orientation and promoting the inclusion of LGBTIQ+ people in sports. Research conducted by the European Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) in 2014 revealed that over 50% of LGBTIQ+ individuals in Europe avoid specific venues due to fear of expressing their sexual orientation.

More than half of LGBTIQ+ individuals do not feel safe in many situations and places, leading them to avoid them altogether. Among the places mentioned, sports clubs and associations accounted for 42% of cases. Another international study, 'Out on the Fields: The first international study on homophobia in sport,' found that 82% of participants had experienced or witnessed homophobia, with over 50% directly experiencing physical or verbal harassment. Even 28% of heterosexual individuals reported being involved in discriminatory acts based on homophobic prejudice. This issue extends beyond the LGBTIQ+ community alone.

These simple statistics demonstrate the disadvantages, feelings of insecurity, and vulnerability experienced by LGBTIQ+ individuals in sports, which are closely linked to sexism and homotransphobia in society. While the LGBTIQ+ community experiences the direct impact, the entire organization suffers from significant discomfort.

On the second day of the transnational meeting, participants focused on creating advocacy campaign videos related to the project theme. They learned that advocacy is the act of raising awareness about a social problem to drive change. It emphasizes giving a voice to the voiceless and providing opportunities for vulnerable individuals to increase visibility and express themselves through information, media, and communication channels.

The participants were divided into two groups to brainstorm ideas based on the previous day's theoretical lessons. They decided to shoot the videos on the streets of Rome and even interviewed passers-by to gather their perspectives. The resulting videos were highly satisfactory and aligned with the project theme.

The meeting concluded with a Question & Answer session, which addressed any remaining doubts about the project.


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