Baseball's Spirit Day celebration great for LGBTQ fans, but not universal yet

Baseball’s Spirit Day celebration great for LGBTQ fans, but not universal yet

Thursday 21 October was Spirit Day this year. It’s not a big event on everyone’s calendar, but it’s a big deal for gays, lesbians, and transgender people and their friends, families, and allies, because it’s an opportunity to say something against bullying LGBTQ youth. And use something purple to show support. It’s a nice atmosphere and a better message.

And even if you think it’s surprising, Spirit Day has also become a big deal in professional sports, because the NFL, NBA and especially Major League Baseball have embraced the value of Spirit Day’s message, that it’s bad to bully someone over their sexuality or gender . thing.

The day was created as an event in 2010 by Canadian teenager Brittany McMillan in the wake of a highly publicized series of suicides by gay children. Leagues and teams show support on social media for these kids to fans because, as Cleveland’s MLB team tweeted, “7 out of 10 LGBTQ students experience harassment at school.”

For some it is easy to care, others may not be so much. 28 of 30 MLB teams shared Spirit Day messages about their support for LGBT youth against bullying, including A’s and Giants.

But the Texas Rangers and Atlanta Braves made the electronically bizarre decision to tweet about Spirit Day while dropping any reference to the children it was created for – LGBTQ children at risk. It’s not as bad as saying that the company respects Easter for the jelly beans, but it does not look good. The Braves at least mentioned LGBTQ children in their tweets with their Spanish-language account and link to more information. But it’s probably no coincidence that Rangers are the only team in baseball that has not had a Pride Day or Night on the ball field for fans.

That baseball has this strong purchasing level for Spirit Day is a reflection of the efforts of MLB VP Billy Bean. A former MLB player, Bean has been a key player in this field since coming out in 1999 after finishing his career, and relied on his experience as a professional athlete to talk to players, team and league staff and fans about acceptance. across differences as basic as when you are gay or straight since baseball hired him in 2014.

“Where the message is today versus where it was, I’m an eternal optimist,” Bean told The Chronicle. “In everyone’s eyes, it’s how they get involved. In a perfect world, I want everyone to meet the bar set by our most progressive teams, but I can not get too caught up in it. I have to look at how thousands of MLB employees took the time to support my community, in a way that did not exist before, and which reaches millions of people. ”

To put the growth of MLB, which embraces an anti-bullying message since he first posted the idea in 2015, Bean notes: “I had to explain the idea for a long time. It was not that long ago, but there was not much setback if teams did not participate in socially responsible messages. ”To assume that the message was not universal, then as now, but it has obviously gotten much better.

This is also not just a message made by social media managers and HR departments away from the field. Asked about MLB’s role in Spirit Day, Giants manager Gabe Kapler told The Chronicle: “I think the embrace of Spirit Day is incredibly important, and I fully support everything we can do to encourage more support for LGBTQ + issues. , individuals and representation throughout our sport. “

There is also an understanding that this problem goes beyond what is said in public or what is seen socially. As Shana Daum, Giants’ vice president of public affairs and community relations, points out: “In particular, we talked about bullying against the LGBTQ community, we first learned through the ‘It’s getting better’ campaign.… We must not only tick the boxes, we must be authentic about the problems we are involved in. ”

Part of this authenticity is reflected in the Giants’ creation of an LGBTQ-employed resource group for their colleagues, in line with the groups of blacks, women, Hispanics, Asian Americans, and more.

“We are obviously not done, there is so much more to do,” Daum remarked.

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