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11 June 2021

Pride Month: how is the European Breeders’ Fund celebrating?

Hear from Rachael Gowland of the British European Breeders’ Fund (EBF) and David Letts, Chair of Racing with Pride on their plans to celebrate Pride Month and how they are working to make everyone feel welcome as fans, staff and participants in the sport of horseracing.

What is Pride month?

Pride month falls annually to recognise the Stonewall Riots which occurred on 28th June 1969 and were a pivotal turning point for LGBT+ rights across the world. Pride month is about LGBT+ communities and allies coming together to celebrate the progress that has been made while recognising that this work is ongoing. It is about committing to play our role in addressing the issues that exist – through education and promoting an open dialogue around LGBT+ inclusion.

What is Racing With Pride?

Racing With Pride is part of the sport’s broader Diversity in Racing Steering Group. The Racing with Pride committee aims to further awareness, education and engagement relating to LGBT+ matters and encompasses the sport’s LGBT+ network of the same name.

Introducing the European Breeders’ Fund (EBF)

The British EBF is one of the largest financial supporters of racing in the country, contributing over £1.7million to prize money each year, sponsoring across a wide range of British racecourses. Funded by British stallion owners, it has been an integral part of the racing landscape since 1983.

Why is it important for racing to show its support?

Research has shown that LGBT+ individuals working in racing are less likely to be out in the workplace than other areas of their life (i.e. to family and friends). It also highlighted considerable homophobic language being used throughout the sport, which can make an environment seem unwelcoming for LGBT+ people.

As a result, the British racing industry has been doing a lot of work around LGBT+ inclusion over the last year with the formation of Racing With Pride, the sport’s LGBT+ network and the launch of a specific e-learning module on Racing2Learn . Further projects include the creation of a communications resource pack, webinars and guidance resources. The sport has engaged with Stonewall’s Rainbow Laces campaign through Racing Is Everyone’s Sport, which saw the creation of a powerful video alongside on-course activation.

Given all this great work, Pride offers the perfect opportunity for the sport to celebrate the work undertaken and to show its support for the LGBT+ community.

Why are the British EBF championing Diversity and Inclusion?

“Put simply: there is no down-side to creating a safe, inclusive, fun and accepting environment for people to work or spend their leisure time,” says Simon Sweeting, Chairman of the British EBF.

“We bridge both the Thoroughbred racing and breeding industries and have a valuable marketing tool in our race sponsorship that initiatives like Racing with Pride and the Diversity in Racing Steering Group can benefit greatly from. Our Trustees were unanimous in their support of donating a race to promote the aims of the sport around the theme of Pride, encompassing gender identity and sexual orientation.”   

When approached by the Diversity in Racing Steering Group earlier in the year, the British EBF Trustees were keen to show support for the projects developing horseracing as a more inclusive sport.

Alongside York Racecourse, the British EBF was able to offer a high-profile sponsorship opportunity as a platform to celebrate the progress already made and raise awareness more widely across the sport.

William Derby, York Racecourse Chief Executive and Clerk of the Course, said:

“York Racecourse is a committed advocate of Racing with Pride and are determined to ensure racing on the Knavesmire is welcoming and inclusive for all.  Our senior management team have developed, and committed to, our York Racecourse Diversity and Inclusion Strategy and have all undertaken Diversity training modules and have sought to ensure all departments and areas are as diverse, inclusive, and welcoming as possible. 

“Among our existing team, we have members of the LGBTQ+ community who we are proud to have as colleagues.  We are actively working within racing, alongside the Diversity in Racing Steering group to ensure our diverse workforce can be confident, comfortable and be part of a fully inclusive community. It is important to us that all our participants and fans feel included and valued.”

What is racing doing more widely?

This month, individuals and organisations across horseracing are coming together to celebrate Pride month. Racing With Pride and Sports Media LGBT+ recently hosted a ‘Preparing for Pride’ webinar to help the sport feel ready to engage with Pride month in a confident way  – the full recording can be viewed here. In response, displays of support including social media activity, race titles and media coverage have been increasingly visible across the sport. In addition, organisations are looking internally at what can be done to foster inclusive environments which encourage new spectators and talent to racing.

We are asking people to continue their support beyond Pride month. Racing With Pride will be hosting a free webinar on Friday 16th July focusing on the importance of Allyship and how we all have a role to play in making sure that racing is an open and inclusive sport for all.

David Letts, academic researcher and Chair of Racing With Pride, commented:

“It is fantastic to see the sport’s enthusiasm for engaging with Pride month, which seems to develop year-on-year. Following our recent ‘Preparing for Pride’ webinar, we have been approached by organisations across the sport who want to demonstrate their support and ensure that they are doing so authentically.

“We are now working alongside these organisations to create action plans, offer internal training sessions and form ongoing relationships. What’s most reassuring is the recognition that these commitments go beyond Pride month and are seen as a year-round focus.”

How you can get involved:

Take the free e-learning module on Racing2Learn

Use the Rainbow Ready resource pack to engage with Pride month

Connect – @RacingWithPride on Twitter/search ‘Racing With Pride’ on Facebook

Sign up for Racing With Pride’s free Allyship Webinar on 16th July


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