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Think Out Loud

Making Sports Safe for LGBT Athletes

Pete Springer/OPB

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The past year has seen several high-profile professional athletes come out. Rookie WNBA superstar Brittney Griner made her announcement as a by-the-way during an interview. Jason Collins, a previously little-know NBA journeyman center, came out on the cover of Sports Illustrated. Two months earlier, soccer player Robbie Rogers came out and retired in the same blog post. In May he signed with the LA Galaxy club, becoming the first openly gay player in MLS.

For Cyd Zeigler, the publisher of, homophobia in high-level sports is all but over. “In three years, homophobia will be done in professional sports,” he says. “People will be stupid on Twitter, but the issue of a gay athlete being comfortable on a team will be over.”

Zeigler is in Portland this week as part of the second annual Nike LGBT Sports Summit, which he helped found last year. The summit is focused on ridding sports of anti-LGBT bias, and while an array of strategies will be discussed, Zeigler wants to see a major push to make LGBT athletes feel free to be open from little league to high school. The avenue to this is training coaches.

“K-12 sports is the root of homophobia in sports culture. Period,” he says.

Are you an LGBT athlete? Did you play sports as a youngster or teenager? How was your experience?

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