Racing With Pride, a network designed for racing’s participants, workforce and fans who are LGBT+ as well as allies of the community, was launched by the Diversity in Racing Steering Group on Monday.

The group’s aims are to offer a safe space for LGBT+ people and allies to meet, receive support, have fun and enjoy racing online and in person as well as promoting a better understanding of LGBT+ inclusion to ensure racing is everyone’s sport.

It will also look to provide a platform for those in racing’s LGBT+ community to have a say in shaping the industry’s future LGBT+ activity.

The group will be based primarily on social media with a secure Facebook group acting as a safe space for members to meet and interact, with plans to host a range of events in the future. Updates will also be posted on the group’s Twitter account.

To help organisations across racing support and promote the network, a ‘Rainbow Ready for Racing’ toolkit has been developed in collaboration with Sports Media LGBT+ to assist in communicating inclusion in the LGBT+ community.

Speaking in support of the launch, Clare Balding said: “Racing is trying hard to embrace a wider audience and to make its own diverse workforce feel confident and comfortable. This platform is a welcome innovation and I hope will encourage more LGBT people already in racing to feel appreciated and supported.

“As those who have yet to discover the beauty of racehorses and the fun of a raceday, I look forward to when we can celebrate with the first Pride Racing Festival, which will no doubt have a carnival atmosphere.”

Rose Grissell, Head of Diversity and Inclusion at the British Horseracing Authority, added: “Given the recent coronavirus pandemic, many of us have experienced increased feelings of isolation and loneliness over the past few months, and research shows that these feelings and associated mental health issues are heightened within the LGBT+ community.

“We recognise this additional vulnerability and believe now is the right time to ensure racing’s LGBT+ participants and fans feel included and valued.

“Racing With Pride has been developed following recent research in the sport which indicated many individuals who identified as a sexual minority did not feel comfortable ‘coming out’ at work, despite largely positive attitudes towards sexual minority individuals throughout the sport.

“We hope to create a fun and fully inclusive community by providing a safe space for members to come together and share their experiences and to show that British racing understands the need for everyone involved in the industry to feel welcome.”