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Sports Teams Take Stand Against LGBT Bullying, Face Backlash

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Professional sports teams across the country are joining millions of people by going purple for Spirit Day, but the message isn't being well received by some.

They're taking a united stand against bullying and to show support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth on Thursday, October 17.

Major League Baseball, Soccer, Basketball, Football, Hockey, UFC and WWE are sharing information about Spirit Day on their Facebook and Twitter accounts.\

The Pittsburgh Pirates changed their Facebook logo to purple to raise awareness.

They also posted the following message:


That has created a backlash from some, upset because they say the organization is promoting the LGBT lifestyle.

One commenter writes, "really? you're a baseball team not a liberal advocacy group. do what you're supposed to do, worry about baseball. let the goofy liberals worry about trying to make Americans think a disgusting lifestyle is cool."

Another writes, "Shame on the Pirates for going political. Bullying is wrong anytime it is done to anyone."

One even goes as far as to say, "Booooooo!!! I'm against bullying but LGBT is an abomination to God."

In less than an hour, the Pirates Facebook page was inundated with hundreds of comments.

Some of them are positive, one Facebook poster writes, "Thank you Pirates for a great season and your support for LGBT youth! You are commended for the work you are doing!"

Another says, "This makes me proud to be a fan of the Pittsburgh Pirates. An individuals should not be bullied ever regardless of disability, sexuality, race, sex or politics."

Pirates spokesperson, Brian Warecki, had this to say about the hateful comments posted on their Facebook page, ""Bullying is a serious issue. We are pleased to join Major League Baseball and the other 29 teams in this league-wide initiative to help call attention to this subject. There is no place in our society for bullying anyone for any reason and we encourage those that have been a victim of bullying to come forward and seek help."

The Pirates aren't the only professional team facing the same criticism.

The Pittsburgh Steelers tell KDKA, "We fully support any initiative that brings attention to bullying, because no one deserves to be subjected to that type of behavior. People need to be made aware that bullying is a problem in our society, and we are in favor of programs instituted to promote the prevention of bullying."

The Pittsburgh Penguins say they too are participating in Spirit Day, and have turned their twitter profile purple.

Each year, GLAAD organizes hundreds of celebrities, entertainment organizations, brands, landmarks, sports leagues, faith groups, school districts, colleges and universities to speak out in support of LGBT youth on Spirit Day.

GLAAD says transgender athlete Kye Allums, out basketball players Jason Collins and Brittney Griner, and out WWE Superstar Darren Young will serve as Spirit Day Ambassadors.

"By coming together to support LGBT youth, American sports leagues are sending a clear message to fans everywhere: homophobia has no place in the game," said GLAAD spokesperson Wilson Cruz. "Whether on the field, in the locker room, or cheering from the stands it's clear that LGBT people are essential to the sports community."

"The You Can Play Project proudly recognizes Spirit Day as a time for everyone to stand in solidarity with LGBT youth to fight against bullying and other forms of discrimination and to celebrate their courage and strength," said Wade Davis, Executive Director of the You Can Play Project and an openly gay, former NFL player.

Millions wear purple on Spirit Day as a sign of support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender ( LGBT ) youth and to speak out against bullying. Spirit Day was started in 2010 as a response to the young people who had taken their own lives.

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