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All Aboard! … Unless You’re Male »
Tuesday
Aug232011

Athletes as Allies

Professional athletes are in a unique position to influence the youth of America. Some have gone so far as to call these super stars role models. There’s one thing we’ve learned for sure; when athletes speak, people listen.

::sidebar:: That’s a little trick that advertisers have known for years! Air Jordans, much?

That’s why it’s so important that professional athletes are starting to talk about the concerns and pressures felt by youth who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender. I feel like I’m overstating the obvious by saying that one of the most pressing concerns for LGBT youth is anti-gay bullying and harassment.

::sidebar:: Meanwhile, let’s call anti-gay bullying and harassment what it really is – sexual harassment.

If you need some convincing of the severity of this type of harassment, here are some statistics from the It Gets Better Project.

  • 9 out of 10 LGBT students have experienced harassment at school.
  • LGBT teens are bullied 2 to 3 times as much as straight teens.
  • More than 1/3 of LGBT kids have attempted suicide.
  • LGBT kids are 4 times as likely to attempt suicide than their straight peers.
  • LGBT youth with “highly rejecting” families are 8 times more likely to attempt suicide than those whose families accept them.

The final statistic on the list emphasizes the importance of acceptance for LGBT youth. Sometimes just the slightest sign of support can make a huge difference for someone who’s being bullied and harassed – maybe the difference between life and death. Nearly all of us have heard someone make harassing comments to or about people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender. Remember that you can make a difference by speaking up against hateful language and behavior.

Check out these videos to see messages of support from a couple of Major League Baseball teams.

The Seattle Mariners

The Boston Red Sox

The Baltimore Orioles

The San Francisco Giants

The Chicago Cubs

Which team do you feel created the most impact with their video? What might you have done differently if you’d made an It Gets Better video? Please share your thoughts.

For more information: http://www.itgetsbetter.org/

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