Sex, sport and Data: The importance of sex disaggregated sport and physical recreation data for compliance with the 2010 Equality Act in Scotland

A guest paper by Cathy Devine

Sex, sport and Data: The importance of sex disaggregated sport and physical recreation data for compliance with the 2010 Equality Act in Scotland

In December 2020 the Chief Statistician for Scotland published draft guidance for public authorities advising thatsuch organisations should not collect data on biological sex, and in most instances, should collect data on self-defined gender identity.

This paper looks at the implications of losing sex disaggregated data for organisations charged with providing sport and physical recreation services to the public,and their ability to fulfil their legal obligationsunder the Equality Act 20101 in relation to the protected characteristic of sex.

The paper focuses on the work of sportscotland, which is the national agency for sport in Scotland.Specifically, the analysis looks at two area of sportscotlandpolicy, which rely on data collected in the Scottish Government Scottish Household Survey: These are: funding decisions taken by sportscotland in relation to female and male sport and physical recreation preferences; and the impact on female single sex sport categories, of eligibility criteria based on gender identity rather than biological sex.

About the author
Cathy Devine is an Independent Researcher. She worked previously for 23 years as Senior Lecturer in Sport at the University of Cumbria, five years at the National Coaching Foundation with responsibility for women in coaching, and two years as Head of Sport at the National Federation of Women’s Institutes. Her reserach profile is available here.