Following this weekend's historic LGBT Sports Summit at Nike Headquarters in Oregon, GLAAD is proud to announce that we are teaming up Athlete Ally and its founder Hudson Taylor to offer LGBT Ally trainings to all 153 major league sports teams in the NFL, MLB, NBA, WNBA and NHL. While many athletes have traditionally shied away from issues that involve the LGBT community out of a desire to stay out of politically charged discussions, more and more Americans are realizing that there's nothing controversial about being welcoming, standing for inclusion, and trying to put a stop to bullying.
"This is not about politics, it's about being respectful of fans, personnel, and athletes of all levels who just happen to be LGBT," said Herndon Graddick, President of GLAAD. "Safe spaces for LGBT young people in the world of sports can be just as important as they are in the classroom. Pro athletes are some of our culture's most important role models, and we want to empower them to stand up for teamwork and respect."
"Athletes are leaders," said Athlete Ally Executive Director Hudson Taylor. "Today more than ever, professional players have the power to affirm, connect and inspire people around the world. By taking small steps based on simple ideas at the heart of sportsmanship - like treating others as you want to be treated – professional sports can unite communities and create a better and more inclusive tomorrow."
The idea of our partnership is to create a landscape in which someone like Hudson Taylor - who told his teammates not to use anti-gay slurs while an All-American wrestler at Maryland - would be seen as the rule, rather than the exception.
It doesn't matter where you stand on specific issues like marriage, values like teamwork, sportsmanship, and respect for others are a fundamental part of building a succesful sports program, and are necessary for any athlete to become a true champion.