National Hockey League launches gay player outreach with You Can Play

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The National Hockey League has joined forces with the You Can Play Project to offer support to homosexual athletes. NHL announced the move amid reports one or more professional athletes are organizing to come out as homosexual.

You Can Play, founded by Philadelphia Flyers scout Patrick Burke, aims to provide necessary support to any NHL player who wishes to come out as homosexual. "If he wants to do a thousand interviews and march in pride parades, we're equipped to handle that," Burke tells The New York Times. "And if he wants us to pass-block for him so he never has to do another interview in his life, we're equipped to handle that, too."

The group will work with the players union and the league to integrate matters of sexual orientation into the players' behavioral health program, making access available to confidential counseling. They will also conduct seminars to educate incoming rookies on gay issues.

Robert Gulliver, an NHL human resources exec says the use of veteran players to send important messages to the rookies will be helpful to the cause. "We do want to sensitize incoming rookies as to how important it is to pay attention to LGBT issues," says Gulliver.

Former NFL player Wade Davis, who revealed after he ended his football career that he is gay, is on You Can Play's advisory board. To date, there has not been a male athlete to come out as homosexual in the United States while playing for a major professional sports team.
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