09/29/2014 07:36 EDT | Updated 11/29/2014 05:59 EST

Homophobia in sports: study asks why players stay in closet

Prompted by his experiences being bullied as a kid in Vancouver, a Canadian researcher has set out to find out why there are so few LGTBQ athletes in mainstream organized sports.

"A lot of people who are [LGTBQ] tend to gravitate toward individual sports because they say they don't feel safe playing team sports," Erik Denison, who now lives in Australia, told Rick Cluff on The Early Edition.

The international study, focusing on the experiences of teenagers, will compare the prevalence of homophobia in sports in countries such as the U.K., U.S., Australia, Canada, Ireland and New Zealand.

Initial data shows most homophobia is experienced through locker room 'jokes'.

"Everyone comes out after they finish their careers," said Denison.

"We want to create a world where elite athletes, amateur athletes, all athletes can come out of the closet and it doesn't matter."

Denison experienced bullying growing up in Vancouver because of his sexual orientation.

The former CBC Vancouver reporter now works as a public relations representative for Sydney's Bingham Cup — the biggest gay rugby tournament in the world.

His study needs 1,000 Canadians, both gay and straight, to participate in a survey.

Only 500 have signed up so far. To participate go to