HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Members of Connecticut's NCAA champion women's basketball team are taking a lead role in a national campaign in support of lesbian and bisexual athletes in women's sports.
Four members of the team created a video for the Br(ache (pronounced Break) the Silence campaign to say gay athletes are welcome at UConn, and bullying people because of their sexual orientation is not tolerated.
Center Stefanie Dolson said she and her teammates feel strongly about the issue, and believe a message needed to be sent, that it's OK for women to be who they are, and that everyone deserves respect.
"I think there is definitely a stigma or a stereotype in women's basketball and other women's sports, like softball and hockey, of women being gay just because they play a sport," she said. "What we're saying is that even if we are gay or bisexual, it shouldn't matter, because we're people."
The campaign was created two years ago by former Division I college basketball players, Colleen McCaffrey and Nevin Caple, in an effort to bring attention to issues of discrimination involving sexual orientation in women's sports.
Those issues were highlighted earlier this year when former Baylor center Brittney Griner said she was encouraged to keep her homosexuality secret while at the school.
Gay rights advocate Pat Griffin, a professor emerita at the University of Massachusetts, said there are college athletic programs that won't recruit athletes they believe might be gay, and gay coaches and players who are fearful of being discriminated against if the come out.
"Heterosexual coaches will also promote the 'family' orientation of their own teams and the 'lack of family values' on rival teams as a way to negatively recruit without directly talk about lesbians," she said.