The NFL has changed its collective bargaining agreement to add sexual orientation to its list of protected classes, marking a big step forward toward inclusivity in the NFL.
The NFL has added sexual orientation to its list of protected classes, a change first noticed by Pete Olsen of the blog, Wide Rights.
A new collective bargaining agreement from the NFL Players Association states that, “There will be no discrimination in any form against any player by the Management Council, any Club or by the NFLPA because of race, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, or activity or lack of activity on behalf of the NFLPA.”
The new agreement was ratified by players in August and will last until 2021. Interestingly, there is speculation that the change may have been precipitated by Ted Olson and David Boies, lead attorneys for the plaintiffs in the California Proposition 8 court case who were also on opposite sides of the NFL negotiations with Boies representing the owners and Olson the players. Read more on that and alternative theories over at Wide Rights.
To clarify, the change effects managerial, Club and NFLPA decisions. It does not strictly prohibit discriminatory behavior between players which would fall under different provisions that have yet to be amended, though managerial oversight would seem to give some force to preventing discrimination among players too.
The NFL was recently criticized because while other sports have embraced the notion of the It Gets Better campaign and various sports teams have participated in It Gets Better videos against anti-LGBT bullying and discrimination, no clubs from the NFL have. That said, Mike Williams of the Seattle Seahawks has participated in a “It Gets Better” video with other Seattle professional athletes. You can read more on that here.
Breaking the taboo of LGBTs playing openly in high profiled sports has proven to be difficult even as legal strides in equality have been made, however the NFL’s decisive step toward sexual orientation nondiscrimination surely indicates at least a willingness toward facilitating the right conditions for change — though how long that change will take remains to be seen.