By Zack Jenkins
In the days following the first ever LGBT Sports Summit hosted at Nike Headquarters in Oregon, GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) announced a partnership with Athlete Ally to offer LGBT sensitivity training to all 153 major league sports teams in the NFL, MLB, NBA, WNBA and NHL.
Hudson Taylor, founder of Athlete Ally and three time NCAA All-American wrestler and Hall-of-Famer at the University of Maryland, has repeatedly been praised as one of the strongest straight allies for the LGBT community in the world of athletics.
Training will educate professional athletes about the importance of allying with LGBT athletes and the community to empower professional sports organizations to stand against homophobia and transphobia. The partnership between Athlete Ally and GLAAD is yet another step towards garnering support for LGBT athletes in all fields of athletic competition, an arena that has traditionally been quiet on LGBT issues and closeted in its support of out athletes.
“Athletes are leaders,” Taylor said in a GLAAD press release. “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.”
From neighborhood and local leagues to professional and international competition, the goal is to bring to all areas of sports a fundamental understanding of respect. Regardless of politicized issues like marriage, the partnership believes “values like teamwork, sportsmanship, and respect for others,” are the building blocks for a successful sports program.
“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.”