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Gauging Acceptance of Gay Teen Athletes

October 09, 2000

I am the UC Irvine researcher mentioned in the Sept. 17 story "Coming Out to Face the Team." While it is true that the openly gay high school athletes studied report an absence of outright harassment, it is also important to recognize that one of the key reasons for this was that all of these athletes were highly valued to their teams. I am, unfortunately, not convinced that athletes of lesser caliber would receive the same treatment.

Gay high school students should also know that California state law protects them from harassment, and that their school is legally responsible for this. If gay students feel that their school is not protecting them from verbal or physical abuse, they should contact a local chapter of the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network for free assistance at http://www.glsen.org. Gay athletes can find information at my Web site, http://www.CoachGumby.com.

In addition, gay resource centers are also found in the counties of Los Angeles, (323) 993-7600; Orange, (714) 534-0862; Long Beach, (562) 434-4455; Riverside, (909) 882-4488; and San Diego, (619) 692-2077.

ERIC ANDERSON

UC Irvine

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The article on gay athletes is timely in light of the recent Olympic Games. Progress continues for teenage gay athletes, according to [researcher and former track coach] Eric Anderson, whose definition of progress is the "absence of overt intolerance or physical harm."

Yet psychological and emotional harm is inflicted through passive homophobia. Heterosexual athletes may be "cool" with gay teammates as long as they don't have to take a position valuing their sexual orientation.

But coaches, teachers and other role models should be aggressive in providing viable examples that respect, not merely tolerate, the expectation in which all members possess equal standing.

JOHN E. LAZAR

Co-chair

West Hollywood Lesbian and Gay Advisory Board

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