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NFL Adds Sexual Orientation to Players’ Contract

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The National Football League has added sexual orientation to its list of protected classes in a newly-approved anti-discrimination clause.

The LGBT sports blog Wide Rights first reported on the new language in the NFL’s 2011 collective bargaining agreement. It quotes Article 49 as saying: “There will be no discrimination in any form against any player by the Management Council, any Club, or by the NFL Players Association because of race, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, or activity or lack of activity on behalf of the [Players Association].”

The Advocate reports that the overall agreement–which regulates conditions such as working hours and wages–was ratified by players on August 4 and will last until 2021.

Co-founder of OutSports.com Cyd Zeigler tells OutQ News that this particular move shows that sports organizations are trying “their very best to make their institution less homophobic.” He says he’s already talked to a handful of insiders who say they have NO hesitation whatsoever about the policy change.

But Zeigler says he DOESN’T think it will impact a player’s decision to come out, adding that its a PERSONAL choice as to when and where they decide to do so.

ZEIGLER: The big piece of this is that it eliminates one of the fears that gay athletes have from coming out of the closet. They fear they might lose endorsement deals, they fear they might lose fans, and they fear they might lose their job, they might get cut from a team–this makes that illegal; they cannot do that.

Zeigler says the other major leagues–baseball, basketball and hockey–have also worked hard over the past few months to become more gay-friendly.

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