NBA is First Professional Sports League to Address Anti-Gay Language Among Teens

The National Basketball Association has teamed up with the Ad Council and the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) to address anti-gay language used among teens.  They have created a series of public service announcements airing throughout the remainder of the highly viewed NBA playoffs and featuring two NBA stars: Grant Hill and Jared Dudley of the Phoenix Suns.

The PSAs are an extension of the acclaimed Think Before You Speak Campaign and GLSEN‘s “Changing the Game” Initiative. Each were created pro bono by New York ad agency ArnoldNYC. The debut of the first PSA also aired on donated time last night during the much-anticipated Miami Heat and Chicago Bulls Eastern Conference Finals game 1.  The Ad Council has reported that they will be distributing the PSAs to over 1,600 stations nationwide and for the entire week they will air on donated time.

The ad features a teen negatively using “that’s so gay” on a basketball court.  The two NBA stars put a stop to the language and explain to the players that using homophobic language to mean something is “dumb or stupid” is not acceptable while playing sports or anywhere else.  The ad directs viewers to to learn more about inclusive language and how to get involved.

Eliza Byard, GLSEN’s executive director had this to say:

“The NBA’s support helps us start a conversation that hopefully will have a lasting impact with an incredibly engaged audience about the Think Before You Speak campaign’s message of respect. Anti-LGBT language is one of the most pervasive forms of harassment in schools, and the casual use of phrases like “that’s so gay” contributes to the hostile school climates that LGBT youth face across the country.”

The NBA’s support comes just after one of their major stars, Kobe Bryant, found himself in a bit of hot water recently after making a homophobic comment during one of his games.  He has since apologized for his remarks but the NBA has faced increased pressure since then to address homophobia in basketball. 

The NBA deserves a lot of credit for taking on this project.  It is very visible and has the potential to impact not only many young lives, but also lives of people who are adults and grew up basketball fans.  It doesn’t mean each person will have some sort of awakening where they will immediately be enlightened, but what it does mean is that over time, with consistency, we can see the culture of sports change to a more healthy, inclusive, safe environment.

The NBA has the potential to be a leader for professional sports teams to follow.  In light of major public figures either coming out recently, or coming out as a straight ally, the climate of visible, positive people in the media is drastically changing. Gay people are no longer individuals that are ashamed of who they are, they are average people doing the same things everyone else does, including playing sports. 

That doesn’t suggest the climate for gay individuals is ideal, but definitely getting better.  With major support from historically homophobic environments, one can only imagine, as Dan Savage might say, it does in fact “get better.”  The hope can only be that other professional sports leagues will follow the NBA’s lead and in doing so, have a positive impact on the culture of athletics.

If you would like more information about this topic or ways to get involved, please visit

Take Action: Sign the petition to show your solidarity with LGBT youth.


Related Stories:

Kobe Bryant Records ‘Words Could Be Hurtful’ PSA

Kobe Bryant No More Homophobic Than the Average Sportsman?

NBA Exec. Rick Welts Comes Out


Photo by: Allison


Glen P.
Glen P6 years ago

This is fantastic.

Way to go NBA!

Carole F.
Carole f6 years ago

Well, these sites are about everyone being able to voice their thoughts and opinions, whether one agrees or not. If individuals have an opinion that is backed by intelligence and clear thought, excluding assassination of one's right to be "different", then we can view them "with interest" Does it change our points of view...rarely, but present you side intelligently, not with one sided idiocy.

I read with interest, until one sounds like a bigot and a non-listener, then I "tune out" and don't treat your comments with respect.
Think first, then write.

Brenda Gilbert
Brenda Gilbert6 years ago

Tavis and Brian C.: What has hurt you so much that you feel you have to attack and hurt others in order to heal your pain? My heart goes out to you both and I can only hope that you will find the peace and love in your lives that will enable you to appreciate and respect others. Blessings to you both, my brothers!

Norma V.
Norma Villarreal6 years ago

Gee, Kobe wasn't endorsing this video? Ooops, he is after a paycheck for this one...

Brian C.
Brian C6 years ago

Obviously you are not into sports. Gay rights issues have no place in something fundamentally American and light hearted as a simple game, attempting to be a "wet blanket" over everyone else's good time. My biggest problem with the LBG rights movement is that activists are always sticking their noses where they don't NEED to. Sports are meant to be an escape from daily stress, yet the LBG movement refuses to show any understanding of that and creates more problems than they solve.
Another example, many states allow gays to form civil unions, some allow gay marriage, yet rather than going to gay friendly states, the LBG movement ironically now bullies anyone who disagrees with them into forced, not willing compliance. You get respect when you show respect, and I see very little respect coming from the LGB movement to anyone who disagrees even a little.

Mark Alan D.

Sorry Brian C, you left me giggling: What could be more sexually MASCULINE than 2 (or more) guys getting it on together?

As for you, TAVIS: I found your suggestion of increasing TESTOSTERONE fascinating. As you are probably not aware, most gay men have ring fingers which are longer than their index fingers. This is believed to be caused by the fetus being exposed to higher levels of testosterone during gestation. This has also been linked to brain development in the area that later influences sexuality. Technically speaking, gay men are the result of too much testosterone, not too little.

I also enjoyed your statement, "basketball sucks," in that it uses the verb completely devoid of its original fellatic origin. It was not long ago that HS PE Coaches would call into question the 'masculinity' of the weaker male players by telling them, "You suck..." with the understood implied ending of "dick." The intended thinking being that "If you don't excel at sports, you must be a cock-sucker, and therefore less of a man." Which is all the funnier when you consider that for the Greek inventors of the Gymnasium, the wrestling really only was a prelude for other more exclusively 'masculine' activities.

Finally, your assertion: "It's known that Christianity and homosexuality cannot exist in the same place" first begs the question, by whom? No doubt by "They." Secondarily, you are correct: those traits exist in persons, not places - and quite often within the same individual.

Arielle Black-Foley

Glad to see that the NBA is taking a stand on this issue!

Natalie d.
Natalie d.6 years ago

THANK YOU, NBA! Finally.

Scott Van Dusen
Scott Van Dusen6 years ago

There are many decent humans on this site, and unfortunately, you will find that many sports spectators could not think critically if a life depended on it. They even like to hide behind a keyboard at this site. It's a shame, because all you have to do is attend an NFL game and you see plenty of knuckle dragging neanderthals. There's not much room for intellect, and what has really ruined most sports,the corporations and sadly, the typical macho type who imbibe. I love going to games (the women are always pretty well behaved, go figure?) and I have been an NBA and NFL season ticket holder for years. (The crowd at the Garden is really generally cool.) Glad that some players in the NBA respect human dignity.

Craig G.
Craig Gosling6 years ago

"Gayness" is a natural happening. Over 500 species of animals have been documented to have homosexual members. Hey bigots, are these animals immoral, are they sinners? If you are a God believer then you must admit that God created Gays. Get over your emotional hang-up and accept the truth. Don't believe your crazy religious leaders or Bronze Age scribes who knew nothing of science.