NFL to Reinforce Policy on Discrimination for Sexual Orientation

The National Football League will reinforce its policy against discrimination based on sexual orientation this season, an initiative that includes a letter to players and posters in locker rooms throughout the league.

The New York-based NFL said it reviewed its “long-standing” anti-discrimination policy following its February scouting combine, where several prospective players said they were asked questions about whether they had girlfriends or were married.

The NFL further discussed the policy with its teams at league meetings in March after the office of New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman opened an inquiry into the matter. After the review, the Attorney General’s office asked the NFL to ensure its anti-discrimination policy is well-communicated, widely disseminated and effectively implemented.

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said in an e-mail that the league will “reiterate and reinforce that policy in writing to our players, teams and staff in the near future.”

Posters will be displayed in locker rooms of all 32 teams conveying the NFL’s anti-discrimination policy, while the league will conduct training on the matter -- including for rookies and those involved in hiring and scouting new players -- and strengthen protocols concerning the reporting of complaints of discrimination or harassment by players.

“My office is committed to ensuring equal protection under the law for all employees and job applicants no matter where they work, and I applaud the NFL for working cooperatively with our office to address these issues,” Schneiderman said in an e-mailed statement. “We are sending a powerful message that discrimination and harassment will not be tolerated in any form.”

Brainstorming Session

Domonique Foxworth, the president of the NFL Players Association, said in a statement that the union appreciates the effort to end discrimination and hold “NFL owners accountable to the highest professional standards in our workplace.”

Former Baltimore Ravens player Brendon Ayanbadejo, a gay-rights advocate, last month attended a meeting at NFL headquarters during which three organizations with ties to sports and the gay community brainstormed how the league could prepare for an openly gay player. Ayanbadejo said that in his discussions with football players who are contemplating coming out, the subject of a joint announcement has been discussed.

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