FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | June 1, 2005
Dear Denise and John York:
On behalf of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, I'd like to thank you for your comments and apology following the release of the training video for the 49er athletes. We appreciate your statement that the 49ers have a "zero tolerance for anything...that creates an environment that anyone could find harassing, embarrassing or uncomfortable."
The National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) would very much like to help you implement your commitment to expand your efforts to promote diversity and understanding and your stated goal to "promote diversity and understanding of all lifestyles and viewpoints."
NCLR is a national legal resource center with a primary commitment to advancing the rights and safety of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and their families through a program of litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education. Since 2002, the NCLR Sports Project has supported LGBT athletes, coaches and sport personnel through a variety of services, including public education, training and direct legal services. We are especially committed to working with coaches and athletes to grapple with the pervasiveness of homophobia in sports and to deal with that reality in supportive, honest, and constructive ways.
We have worked with Nike, the University of Florida, the Women's Basketball Coaches Association, the US Golf Association, and other organizations to help the sports community recognize the negative impacts of anti-gay stereotyping and to develop realistic strategies for eliminating discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. We have partnered with Don McPherson, former Syracuse University quarterback and NFL player (Philadelphia Eagle and Houston Oilers), in our trainings for men's programs. Don is also the executive director of the Sports Leadership Institute of Adelphi University in New York where he works on violence prevention toward women.
The harmful comments and actions that tend to develop as a result of unfortunate incidents such as this one involving the 49ers can do tremendous harm to LGBT youth, athletes, their teams and their communities at large.
While we cannot prevent such events from taking place, we can learn from them. NCLR Sports Project would be very pleased to partner with you to turn this event into an opportunity for the athletes, the team and the San Francisco community to work against this stereotyping. In addition to providing top-notch trainings that incorporate the leading trainers in this area, our services are pro bono. As longtime residents of the Bay Area, we are proud of the 49ers and cognizant of your many contributions to the Bay Area and the state. It would be an honor to work with you to turn this negative incident into an opportunity to have the 49ers take the lead in setting an example of combating anti-gay discrimination and stereotyping for other professional teams.
Please do not hesitate to contact me if I can provide more information about our Sports Project or the training we provide.
The National Center for Lesbian Rights is a national legal organization committed to advancing the civil and human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and their families through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education.