Major League Baseball says it will bolster its policies against harassment and discrimination based on sexual orientation, according to a new agreement provided to The Associated Press on Monday.
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The league is scheduled to announce its new policy during its All-Star game festivities on Tuesday with the players’ union and New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who helped draft the agreement.
Under the new policy, the league will create a workplace code of conduct and distribute it to every major league and minor league player. It also will provide new training sessions and create a centralized complaint system to report any harassment and discrimination.
"Just making people aware," Chicago White Sox manager Robin Ventura said Monday night while the American League took batting practice. "I think that’s part of the reason, if they’re going to do that, that’s why they would do it. Just put it out there and kind of be ahead of it instead of behind it."
"I think it’s already out there. I think what’s happened in basketball and all this stuff, it’s better just to get out there and be ready for it," he said.
The announcement follows Schneiderman’s agreement this year with the National Football League to strengthen its policies. Some NFL prospects complained about questions they said were posed to them during the evaluation and hiring system called the NFL combine. The case prompted a look at harassment and discrimination policies in other sports.
It also comes after basketball player Jason Collins said in April that he’s gay. The veteran center is a free agent.
Few professional athletes are openly gay, and gay rights groups have blamed the policies and atmosphere in sports for forcing gay athletes to hide their sexual orientations.
Schneiderman, a Democrat, called the new policy actions a "clear stand against discrimination."
"Our national pastime is showing national leadership in the fight to promote equal justice for all," he said.
Major League Baseball already has an anti-discrimination policy, but the new one specifically will prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation. Commissioner Bud Selig said baseball won’t allow any discrimination.
"We welcome all individuals regardless of sexual orientation into our ballparks, along with those of different races, religions, genders and national origins," Selig said. "Both on the field and away from it, Major League Baseball has a zero-tolerance policy for harassment and discrimination based on sexual orientation."
Said Ventura: "I mean, I think he’s right."
"I think it’s just better to put it out there and clean it up and make everybody more conscious about it. I would expect that from our team, too," he said.
The Major League Baseball Players Association said it supports the policy so that players can pursue their careers regardless of their sexual orientations.
"MLBPA embraces diversity and supports a workplace environment that welcomes all regardless of race, religion and sexual orientation," said the union’s executive director, Michael Weiner.
Union official Tony Clark, who played in the 2001 All-Star game, echoed those remarks.
"Any time you can put pen to paper, to formally acknowledge that certain things won’t be tolerated and post it in every clubhouse, that’s a good thing," Clark said as the AL players loosened up.