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American Public Health Association
133rd Annual Meeting & Exposition
December 10-14, 2005
Philadelphia, PA
APHA 2005
3337.0: Monday, December 12, 2005 - Board 4

Abstract #106859

Homophobic environment as a barrier to participation in health promoting physical activity

Mary McElroy, PhD, Department of Kinesiology, Kansas State University, 1A Natatorium, Manhattan, KS 66506, 785-532-0711, mmcelro@ksu.edu, Danielle R. Brittain, MS, Department of Human Nutrition, Kansas State University, 1A Natatorium, Manhattan, KS 66506, and Nancy Gyurcsik, PhD, College of Kinesiology, University of Saskatchewan, 87 Campus Drive, Saskatoon, SK S7N 5B2, Canada.

Participation in physical activity results in numerous health benefits such as reduced risks for diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Unfortunately, nearly 80% of adult lesbians are not physically active at sufficient levels to achieve health benefits (Valanis, et.al, 2000). Although to date no research has examined whether lesbians encounter unique barriers to participation in physical activity, when one's sexual orientation leads to uncomfortableness and discrimination this hostile climate is likely to contribute to adverse health consequences. The purpose of the present study is to determine if factors associated with a homophobic environment are perceived as limitations to participation in physical activity. The present analysis is part of a larger study of 982 self-identified adult lesbians who participated in a web-based survey. The homophobic environment was determined from responses to six potential barriers to participation in physical activity. Results revealed women were able to identify factors related to a homophobic environment that presented obstacles to participation in physical activity. Significant lesbian specific barriers included the absence of exercise facilities that offer same-sex partner benefits (25.4%), absence of lesbian exercise or sport groups in the community (25.3%), and uncomfortableness changing clothes in front of other women (10.9%) The presence of homophobic barriers to participation in physical activity identified in this study provide initial empirical support that links homophobic environments to difficulties associated with participation in important health promoting behaviors. Future research needs to continue to systematically identify the ways in which homophobic environments adversely impact lesbian health.


Learning Objectives:

Keywords: Physical Activity, Gay

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

I wish to disclose that I have NO financial interests or other relationship with the manufactures of commercial products, suppliers of commercial services or commercial supporters.

Special Topics: Poster Session

The 133rd Annual Meeting & Exposition (December 10-14, 2005) of APHA