'Sexual orientation plays no role whatsoever in peoples' ability to play a sport,' said HRC's Winnie Stachelberg.
WASHINGTON - The Human Rights Campaign today praised the findings of a new poll released in the April 12 edition of Sports Illustrated magazine showing that 86 percent of Americans think that openly gay athletes should not be excluded from team sports. However, the poll went on to say that 68 percent of respondents think it hurts an athlete's career to be openly gay.
"Sexual orientation plays no role whatsoever in peoples' ability to play a sport," said Winnie Stachelberg, vice president of the HRC Foundation. "Whether you come out when you're a baseball player, a boxer or a delivery truck driver, ability is dictated by how hard people work."
In the past decade, several high-profile athletes have come out including former professional football player Esera Tuaolo.
"What's wonderful is that we are talking about these issues and educating society on homophobia in professional sports," said Tuaolo. "We all know that educating people is half the battle. We're humanizing the professional athlete and that makes me happy. Don't get me wrong, we're taking baby steps, but at least they're in the right direction."
In related sporting news, last month the United States Golf Association announced that it has adopted a new policy allowing transgender athletes to compete in USGA golf championships, including the upcoming U.S. Women's Open.
The USGA's policy change follows similar rulings made in recent years by the International Olympic Committee, Great Britain's Ladies Golf Union and Women's Golf Australia, which all allow transgender athletes to compete.
"World-class athletic organizations are increasingly tackling barriers to discrimination on the playing field because GLBT athletes are as strong and talented as anyone else," said Stachelberg. "We take our hats off for openly GLBT athletes and the fans who cheer them on - they are all helping to raise the bar on the rules of good sportsmanship."
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