A systematic scoping review of physical education experiences from the perspective of LGBTQ+ students


Despite shifts towards inclusivity, physical education (PE) is still perceived as unwelcoming towards students who identify as sexual and gender minorities (LGBTQ+). A systematic scoping review was conducted to garner an enhanced understanding of the empirical literature exploring LGBTQ+ student experiences within PE. Eligible studies that examined LGBTQ+ student experiences within PE were available in English and published in peer-reviewed journals between 1990 and May 14th, 2019. All included studies had participants self-identify as LGBTQ+ and were comprised of either current students (i.e., adolescents) or adults reflecting on their PE experiences. Studies were identified by searching eight electronic databases which produced 962 abstracts from which eight articles were eligible for inclusion. Data were then extracted, summarized, and thematically synthesized into a conceptual map. The majority of the articles reviewed relied on samples that were predominantly comprised of able-bodied white cisgender individuals, with only half of the articles involving adolescent participants. Across studies, the omnipresence of cis-heteronormativity in PE adversely influenced LGBTQ+ experiences through homophobic and transphobic practices. The qualitative studies included in this review highlighted the implicit and explicit gendering processes that work to gender students as well as physical activities. Although cis-heteronormativity and its resulting exclusive practices should continue to be challenged within PE, the experiences of current LGBTQ+ students should be prioritized to inform and evaluate inclusive PE policies, curricula, and teacher training.