Press Release: Browns LB Joins Athlete Ally Ambassador Initiative
Cleveland Browns Linebacker
Joins Athlete Ally Ambassador Initiative
NFL’s Scott Fujita to Carry the Message of
Gay Inclusion in Sports to Athletes and Fans
NEW YORK, NEW YORK (January 16, 2013) – Athlete Ally, the leading organization working to raise awareness about and end homophobia in sports, announced today that National Football League player and Cleveland Browns linebacker Scott Fujita will join the organization’s Ambassador program. This news follows last month’s announcements that Minnesota Viking’s punter Chris Kluwe and Brendon Ayanbadejo of the Baltimore Raven’s, whose teams both reached the playoffs this year, have aligned with Athlete Ally as well.
The Ambassador program engages athletes across the country to speak out and encourage athletes, coaches, and fans to challenge homophobia in sports. It launched in 2010 with collegiate athletes. With the addition of these widely respected players to the program, it’s clear that the NFL’s culture is shifting, and moving towards a space that openly advocates for respect towards LGBT issues.
“The Athlete Ally Ambassador program is growing nearly every week,“ says Hudson Taylor, Executive Director of Athlete Ally. “We’ve seen so much progress recently in the sporting arena, and players in the league are becoming much more open and willing to accept difference, and more cognizant of how homophobic language can have a negative affect on people. We’re getting closer all the time to seeing an openly gay player in the NFL.”
Fujita said of his joining the program: “To me, this issue just makes so much sense. I believe in respect and dignity, and equal treatment for all people. There are a lot of players out there who are way more accepting than people think, and I’m really excited to be a part of Athlete Ally and help show that. We have to make this a dialogue that’s ongoing.”
Scott has been active in the cause of supporting the LGBT community and starting discussion around gay rights since 2009 with his open support of the Marriage Equality March. During the time of the Super Bowl in the following year, he was quoted by a plethora of sources, including Outsports.com and The New York Times about his position of equality and acceptance.
Sean Avery, the former standout New York Ranger and Athlete Ally Board Member said of the flurry of new ambassadors: “I think we’ve not only seen a shift in how players would feel about a gay teammate, we’ve seen comfort rise in straight allies stepping forward and advocating for their beliefs. This sort of progress in both spheres is a great step forward.”
Brian Ellner, a leading marriage-equality advocate who led the Campaign for New York Marriage and who serves on the Athlete Ally Board of Directors stated “Scott Fujita has always shown enormous courage on issues of equality. He spoke out publicly in support of marriage equality back in 2010 on the biggest stage in the world, the Super Bowl. Scott is a fearless advocate who will help Athlete Ally advance the culture of sports, helping to eradicate homophobia and making it possible for an active player to come out.”
As an Athlete Ally Ambassador, Fujita joins Brendon Ayanbadejo and Chris Kluwe – two other outstanding advocates for LGBT equality – and scores of college athletes who have already signed on. Fujita will act as a liaison between the organization and the NFL, help promote Athlete Ally’s mission to end homophobia in sports by speaking out to his team, league and fan base, and encourage his colleagues to join in the effort.
Last month, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell talked about his longstanding commitment to player conduct pledges and also, how he protected his gay brother from bullies growing up. Goodell’s story is another example of why the Athlete Ally mission is in synch with the goals of the NFL. Goodell was profiled on the cover of Time Magazine.
About Athlete Ally
Athlete Ally is a non-profit organization dedicated to encouraging athletes, coaches, parents, fans and other members of the sports community to respect all individuals involved in sports, regardless of perceived or actual sexual-orientation or gender identity or expression. Athlete Ally calls on the athletic community to use its status and influence to help stop anti-gay bullying by championing respect, camaraderie and inclusion in sports.
To contact Athlete Ally: