Human Rights Campaign and It Takes A Team! to Host NCAA Final Four Weekend Panel on Gays in Sports

LZ Granderson, Senior Writer, ESPN The Magazine and Columnist,

Will Moderate the Discussion

The Panel Is Being Supported by Nike, a Longtime Partner With HRC and a

Strong Supporter of Workplace Equality

Mar 27, 2007, 01:00 ET from Human Rights Campaign

    WASHINGTON, March 27 /PRNewswire/ -- At this year's NCAA Men's Final
 Four weekend in Atlanta, The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and It Takes a
 Team! -- a project of Billie Jean King's Women in Sports Foundation --
 present a panel discussion designed to continue the dialogue about gay,
 lesbian, bisexual and transgender athletes at all levels, from high school
 to the pros. The panel, to take place on March 30th at 11:00 am at the
 Inforum in downtown Atlanta, will include John Amaechi, Billy Bean, Joey
 Fisher, David Kopay, Terri O'Connell and Esera Tuaolo.
     "With his announcement this spring, John Amaechi reignited the dialogue
 in this country about openly gay athletes," said Human Rights Campaign
 President Joe Solmonese. "We believe that GLBT and straight athletes all
 benefit from respectful, open competition. As sports fans from around the
 nation will be watching the NCAA Final Four games in Atlanta, we want to
 bring this conversation to them."
     The panel is being supported by Nike, a longtime partner with HRC and a
 strong supporter of workplace equality.
     "Sports is a metaphor for life and should be about inclusion and
 equality. I applaud HRC, Nike, ESPN and the Women's Sports Foundation for
 enabling this debate," said Sheryl Swoopes, WNBA champion from the Houston
 Comets and a Nike athlete.
     "It's essential that we maintain an open discourse in an effort to
 eradicate homophobia throughout the world," said the HRC's Coming Out
 Project Spokesperson and panelist John Amaechi. "Specifically in the arena
 of sports, this discussion must continue until gay athletes are viewed and
 treated without prejudice. Sports organizations have an obligation to
 engender an atmosphere where all people can perform at their peak for the
 benefit of the individual and the team. Allowing people to be true to
 themselves not only encourages empowerment, it fuels honesty and trust, the
 key elements needed in any healthy relationship, marriage, team or work
     Pat Griffin, Director of It Takes A Team! says, "Everyone should be
 able to enjoy the challenges and joys of sport participation. Every athlete
 should be evaluated, not on her or his sexual orientation or gender
 identity, but on their accomplishments and character. All athletes should
 have the right to play without fear of discrimination or harassment."
     LZ Granderson, senior writer, ESPN The Magazine and columnist,
 will moderate the discussion of five former professional "out" athletes and
 a current college athlete.
     *  John Amaechi, former NBA player, Bronze medalist at the Commonwealth
        Games and author of the New York Times bestselling book "Man In The
     *  Billy Bean, former Major League Baseball player and author of "Going
        the Other Way: Lessons from a Life In and Out of Major League Baseball"
     *  Joey Fisher, a University of Georgia Ice Dogs goalie, and student who
        came out to his team last year.
     *  David Kopay, former NFL player and one of the first professional
        athletes to come out as gay and author of "The David Kopay Story"
     *  Terri O'Connell (born James Terrell Hayes), a former World Class race
        car driver with more than 25 years experience and author of "Dangerous
     *  Esera Tuaolo, a former NFL player and author of "Esera Tuaolo: Alone In
        The Trenches"
     "This is an important discussion to be had in terms of both male and
 female athletes at all levels of sports. Unfortunately, due to scheduling
 issues with other events around the country, several leading female
 athletes were not able to participate in our panel this weekend in Atlanta.
 HRC and ITAT hope to host a similar panel discussion focusing on homophobia
 in women's sports in the near future," said Mark Shields from HRC's Coming
 Out Project.
     About HRC
     For more information please go to the HRC website at
     About It Takes a Team!
     For more information please go to the It Takes a Team! website at

SOURCE Human Rights Campaign