May 17, 2011 / 9:39 PM / 6 years ago

San Francisco Giants join drive against bullying of gays

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - The San Francisco Giants have become the first professional sports team to join the “It Gets Better” campaign against bullying of gay youths, the online activist group Change.org said on Tuesday.

The Giants, who play in a city with a large gay population, joined the campaign after 6,000 people signed a petition asking for the Major League Baseball team to produce an “It Gets Better” video, according to Change.org.

Giants spokeswoman Staci Slaughter confirmed the team will produce a video for the campaign before it hosts an annual lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender night on August 29.

The team has not determined which players, if any, will appear in the video, Slaughter said.

Last week, New York Rangers hockey forward Sean Avery became one of only a few active U.S. athletes to express support for gay rights, when he spoke out in favor of same-sex marriage.

And U.K. rugby star Ben Cohen has started the Ben Cohen StandUp Foundation, which tries to raise awareness of bullying and homophobia.

In recent weeks, other pro sports figures have made headlines with anti-gay comments.

In April, a Giants fan accused Atlanta Braves pitching coach Roger McDowell of making an anti-gay slur against him during a game at AT&T Park in San Francisco.

As a result, McDowell was suspended for two weeks by Major League Baseball.

Also last month, Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant was fined $100,000 by the National Basketball Association for uttering an anti-gay slur against a referee.

There are no openly gay professional athletes actively playing in any of the four major U.S. professional sports -- The NBA, Major League Baseball, the National Hockey League or the National Football League.

Syndicated columnist Dan Savage created the “It Gets Better” campaign last year in response to a number of suicides by teenagers who suffered bullying over their sexuality.

President Barack Obama starred in an “It Gets Better” video last year, and a number of major technology companies from Google Inc to Microsoft Corp have supported the campaign.

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