LSU Football Team Highlights Both Progress and Remaining Work in Tackling Homophobia in Sports
Player and coach make offensive remarks about LGBT people; other players ready to embrace openly gay athlete
Washington – A Louisiana State University football player and coach made offensive remarks about LGBT athletes this week, with running back Alfred Blue implying a gay man wouldn’t be welcome on his team: “Football is supposed to be this violent sport — this aggressive sport that grown men are supposed to play. Ain’t no little boys out here between them lines. So if you gay, we look at you as a sissy. You know? Like, how you going to say you can do what we do and you want a man?”
Head coach Les Miles – rather than condemning Blue’s remarks – compounded them. While saying he would treat a gay player in an “appropriate” manner, Miles said he would have to “describe how I saw locker rooms and how I saw travel and how I saw staying in hotel rooms and how I saw those things. If that’s not an issue, I think things could be resolved.”
“The remarks from LSU head coach Les Miles and one of his players are deeply troubling and send the wrong message to youth across the country,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “Sexual orientation has absolutely nothing to do with one’s ability to play a sport. These men should be telling our youth that if they put their mind to something and work hard, they can achieve it. If Les Miles doesn’t think he can be that kind of leader, he should step aside and make way for someone who is.”
Some of Blue’s teammates disagreed with his remarks, and in the same news article showed support for anyone who could contribute to the team’s performance. A sophomore quarterback noted: “If he can play for LSU, he will play for LSU,” while a kicker stressed the importance of treating everyone with dignity: “I think the main thing is people can learn as fans, as athletes, as just people in general, just respect one another and it ends at that.”
“Other LSU players seem to get it and they’re sending the right message,” added Griffin. “It’s important for youth – particularly those growing up in communities without strong support systems – to know that they will not be limited in life simply because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.”
Blue issued an apology for his remarks and said he would support anyone who could contribute to his team.
The comments from Blue and Miles come amid a sharp increase in support for equality among professional athletes. Earlier this year, NFL players Brendon Ayanbadejo and Chris Kluwe were among those who filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court speaking out for marriage equality. Both Ayanbadejo and Kluwe are advocates for ending homophobia in sports.
The Human Rights Campaign is the largest national lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender political organization with members throughout the country. It effectively lobbies Congress, provides campaign support and educates the public to ensure that LGBT Americans can be open, honest and safe at home, at work and in the community.