What is ETS, and can it foster LGBTQIA+ inclusion?

ETS for LGBTQIA+ inclusion ©Tina Éowyn Šmid

Education Through Sport (ETS) is an excellent tool for fostering LGBTQIA+ inclusion. It is a non-formal educational approach employing sports and physical activity to promote personal development and positive, sustainable change.

ETS uses sports in non-formal learning programs focused on various social issues, such as employability, social integration, racism and discrimination. This approach is also applied in conflict management, offering a wide range of possibilities to promote inclusion and solidarity.

For example, it can enhance interpersonal relationships and active citizenship, leading to social cohesion. ETS improves aspects such as respect, acceptance, solidarity, and trust, making it useful in workplace environments and group dynamics. 

ETS applies the principles of Non-Formal Education as well as the “learning by doing” element to sports, differentiating itself from the technical-competitive approach (Education FOR Sport) and the more similar but narrower scope of Education BY Sport (e.g., the “sport for all” movements that link charitable initiatives to sports events). It encourages reflection on our attitudes toward minorities and awareness of our privileges or disadvantages.

MESIS: applying the Outsport method

The Erasmus+ MESIS project (Missing Pieces For Educators And Local Stakeholders Addressing Inclusive Sport), coordinated by AiCS – Associazione Italiana Cultura Sport, uses ETS for LGBTQIA+ inclusion, inspired by the strategies of the Outsport project. Through research, training, the creation of inclusive policies, and the promotion of cultural change, MESIS aims to create sporting environments where every participant can feel comfortable and included.

ETS for LGBTQIA+ inclusion

A central part of the project is the Capacity Building Sessions (CBS), intensive training sessions for coaches, physical education teachers, and other professionals working with physical activity. During March and April 2024, Rome, Ljubljana, and Lisbon hosted dozens of participants from different countries. They took part in workshops, theoretical lessons and physical activities, deepening skills and tools to promote inclusion in their communities. This further inspired the project partnership, which just launched the Outsport Learning Community, a Telegram platform for training and sharing. This community will share news, information, tools, and opportunities related to ETS and inclusion in the sports world.

ETS for LGBTQIA+ inclusion

Outsport Learning Community: ETS for LGBTQIA+ inclusion

The Outsport Learning Community updates members on the activities of various national stakeholders, local pilot events, and related initiatives. It facilitates exchange of best practices while supporting the continuous learning and improvement of skills among sports and education professionals. Additionally, MESIS is developing a multilingual MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) providing educational resources for teachers, coaches, and other professionals.

Pictures: ©Tina Éowyn Šmid, ©Sara Palermo