NFL Adds Sexual Orientation Protections


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.

From the Advocate:

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.

Related Reading:

Seattle Sports Teams Unite for It Gets Better Video

San Francisco Giants to LGBT Teens: It Gets Better! (VIDEO)

Noah Calls $50,000 Fine for Gay Slur “Fair”

Image used under the Creative Commons Attribution License with thanks to viewoftheworld.


Glen P.
Glen P6 years ago

Good going NFL!

Welcome to the 21st century. :-)

Dianne Robertson
Dianne Robertson6 years ago

Good for them! Denying homosexuality in such a large group of men is STUPID and allows fans to continue their traditional bigotry.Athletes have EVERY RIGHT to enjoy their complete person.Their freedom to come out will remove the continuous need to hide the essense of themselves and allow EXCELLENT chance of role-modeling.The players Union will be able to negotiate extended and fair benifits.I'm really pleased with this PROGRESS!

Carolyn B.
Carolyn R6 years ago

Part of why I stayed out of sports, despite being naturally athletic was that when I was in school the coaches pretty much acted like enforcing racism, sexism, homophobia and religious bigotry was a huge part of their job. Sports always seemed to be an extremely backward part of our curriculum, only continuing into college where it's still clearly mostly about money, and also a little bit about the "old boys' network", all of which seems shameful for colleges to be involved in. It's nice to see progress being made all over, even in football! Who's going to be the first "out" player with an active career, I wonder? Pretty cool news!

K s Goh
KS Goh6 years ago

Thanks for the article.

Sheri Schongold
Sheri Schongold6 years ago

Athletes make up a good size portion of "heros/models" that our children look up t. It is pleasing to see them showing that differences don't matter and we can all work together for a better world.

Diana S.
Diana P6 years ago

I love football, and I'm glad they have taken this first step.

John Doucette
John Doucette6 years ago

It's good that pro football has added sexual orientation protections to its contracts with the players. Now we just have to see if it works, assuming any player does come out as gay.

Chris M.
Chris M6 years ago

WOW! This IS good news!

adriana j.
adriana j6 years ago

Good news! :)

ewoud k.
ewoud k6 years ago

Looks like it' getting better in footbal too!