New York, NY– On Tuesday, Major League Baseball released new policy guideline intended to protect players and employees from discrimination and bias based on a person’s sexual orientation.
Unlike football, professional baseball hasn’t been involved in any sexual discrimination cases, nor is there any openly gay players in the league, but passing these protections will assure that if any players come out in the future the MLB has them covered.
Under the new sexual harassment and discrimination policies, the MLB will institute a centralized reporting system and hold anti-discrimination training sessions.
The new policies will be prominently posted in major and minor league locker rooms. According to CNN, these new posters define harassment and discrimination as “slurs and insults, unwelcome physical contact and pornography on bulletin boards and locker rooms.”
“The Great American pastime of baseball sends a message that no professional athlete, professional or amateur should have to sit on the sidelines or hide out of fear of being mistreated because of their sexual orientation,” said NY Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who worked with the MLB to institute the policies. “I commend the commissioner and Major League Baseball for leading the charge for tolerance in professional sports.”
“Diversity is a hallmark of our sport, which has an innate ability to bring people together,” said MLB Commissioner Bud Selig, according to the Chicago Tribune. “The people of our sport have a responsibility to act with the kind of respect and sensitivity that our game, diverse players and fans deserve,” he said.
The MLB policy follows on the heels of a recent controversy in the NFL which also recently passed the same protections.
In April, during the NFL draft a number of players said they were asked unusual questions relating to their sexual orientation. Some prospective players were asked if they liked girls, or if they had a girlfriend. The players asked these questions felt like they were being scrutinized to determine if they were gay.
After an investigation, the NFL reported they could not find any particular incidents but began working with the Attorney General’s office. Any employer whether it is the NFL, MLB, or a fast-food restaurant is prohibited from asking about an applicant’s sexual orientation under the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
The NFL took steps similar to the ones MLB took. They placed posters in all lockers rooms, which directly addressed the questions recruits faced. The poster says the questions asked during interviews and recruitment “must not seek information concerning personal information based on a player’s sexual orientation.”
“My office is committed to ensuring equal protection under the law for all employees and job applicants no matter where they work,” Schneiderman said in an April press conference, “and I applaud the NFL for working cooperatively with our office to address these issues. Together we are sending a powerful message that discrimination and harassment will not be tolerated in any form.”
The NHL was the first professional athletic association to take these steps to prevent discrimination and harassment of openly gay athletes.