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MLB targets bullying with ‘Shred Hate’ program

11 D.C. schools participate in first year of project

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Trea Turner, gay news, Washington Blade, shred hate

Washington Nationals shortstop Trea Turner meets school kids participating in the Shred Hate program on the field at Nationals Stadium. (Photo courtesy MLB)

On May 23, about 250 students from 11 D.C. public and charter schools met Washington Nationals shortstop Trea Turner at Nationals Stadium, and about 25 of them joined Turner on the field shortly before the start of the game between the Nationals and the San Diego Padres.

In addition to talking about baseball, Turner talked to the middle and high school students about a subject he said he knows about personally – bullying and a program sponsored by Major League Baseball and the ESPN TV sports network to prevent bullying in the nation’s schools.

“I think two things,” Turner told the students, according to a joint statement released by the Nationals and MLB. “Be yourself, you are who you are and be proud of it,” he said. “And rely on your friends and your family.”

As the students listened intently, Turner added, “A lot of people that bully or whatever it may be, people that don’t know you, classmates or a lot of stuff is from people who don’t know you and what your values and morals are.”

Joining Turner in the gathering with the students that day was Billy Bean, a gay former Major League Baseball player who now serves as MLB’s Vice President for Social Responsibility and as Special Assistant to MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred.

The students’ visit with Turner and Bean at Nationals Park and the invitation they received to watch the Nationals game that day was part of a new program launched in January 2017 by Major League Baseball, ESPN, and ESPN’s X-Games sports competition called Shred Hate.

The Shred Hate program included visits by school kids to the ballparks in three participating cities during its first-year launch – D.C., Chicago, and Minneapolis. But the major component of the program took place in the approximately 35 schools in those cities along with others in Colorado that were selected for the 2017-2018 school year.

A non-profit San Francisco-based organization called No Bully, which has been training schools on how to put in place bullying prevention and eradication efforts for more than a decade, has been retained by MLB and ESPN to carry out the Shred Hate program in the selected schools.

“The No Bully System is a set of interventions to prevent and stop bullying and cyberbullying in school and after school programs,” according to a March 2018 statement released by ESPN. “The school leadership team receives coaching on how to lead school culture change,” it says.

“No Bully staff trainings motivate and teach school faculty how to interrupt and stop student bullying, and parents are trained to support the school’s anti-bullying initiative,” the statement says.

On its own website No Bully says it has developed and refined its bullying prevention system through years of partnering with schools across the country. It says schools that implement the ‘No Bully System’ are solving 90 percent of their bullying incidents. A key component of the system, according to No Bully, is direct involvement of the students who become members of a school “solution team” that responds to bullying incidents.

“The school joins with parents to prevent student bullying and cyberbullying through building a culture where every student is accepted for who they are,” the group says.

Bean told the Washington Blade that Trea Turner is one of as many as a dozen MLB players that have so far interacted with students from the schools participating in Shred Hate in D.C., Chicago, and Minneapolis during the program’s first year. In addition to the Washington Nationals, the participating players were with the Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, and Minnesota Twins.

Several of the players, including Turner of the Nationals and Minnesota Twins center fielder Byron Buxton, have recorded videos that are being used as public service announcements, Bean said. He said the PSAs have been shown on the video screens at the ballparks as well as on some local TV stations.

“Every kid deserves go to school and have fun and just be themselves,” Buxton says in the PSA he recorded. “You know, there is no place in this world for bullying. Be proud of yourself. Be proud of the things that make you happy,” he says.

“It was important for me to let kids know you are somebody and to never give up because nothing’s impossible,” Buxton continues. “Together, let’s stop bullying. Choose kindness and shred hate.”

Asked whether the Shred Hate program, including its training programs in the schools, addresses the issue of anti-LGBT bullying, Bean said, “Absolutely. LGBT kids are persecuted and bullied at a higher percentage than those who don’t identify as LGBT.”

He added, “We would not have picked a partner that did not have a clear understanding of the time and place for those conversations” related to anti-LGBT bullying.

Lynne Seifert, a former school teacher and school administrator in Colorado who participated in the No Bully program in schools where she worked, now serves as No Bully’s partnership manager and coordinator for the Shred Hate program. During the past year she has visited schools in all three cities involved in Shred Hate, including some of the 11 D.C. schools, where she set up training sessions for teachers and administrators.

“We go in and we train the staff how to interrupt conflict and bullying in a very non-confrontational way,” Seifert told the Blade. “And we do that by using their social vision or their social contract,” she said, noting that the system encourages all students to agree to an unwritten “contract” and vision aimed at discouraging bullying and making it “cool” to be against bullying.

Seifert said that among the D.C. schools participating in the program were Washington Global Public Charter School, Center City Public Charter School, Washington Latin Public Charter School, Hardy Middle School and Hope Community Public Charter School.

Bean said Shred Hate officials conducted a survey of the principals at the 35 schools participating in the program this year in the three cities, and the results have been encouraging. Among other things, attendance at the schools increased an average of six percent over last year, he said.

“And they have decreased school suspensions by 50 percent,” said Bean. “They had a total of 175 detentions last year in those schools and they were down to only 47 this year,” he said. “So we’re seeing some across the board numbers” that indicate the program’s goal of “creating and sustaining a bully-free zone” is advancing, Bean said.

An MLB statement says the Shred Hate program was officially launched in January 2017 at the start of the X-Games in Aspen, Colo. The statement says among the schools in Colorado that became the first to participate in the No Bully System initiated by Shred Hate, incidents of bullying decreased by 94 percent.

Among the X-Games athletes participating in the Shred Hate program was U.S. Olympic skier Gus Kenworthy, who also has recorded an anti-bullying PSA. Kenworthy, who’s gay, became the subject of international news coverage in February during the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea when he kissed his boyfriend after completing a skiing competition.

He drew further attention when he declined an invitation by Vice President Mike Pence to meet, saying he disagreed with Pence’s and the Trump administration’s policies on LGBT issues.

“I think that Shred Hate is an awesome topic for X-Games to tackle,” Kenworthy said in the PSA he recorded. “In my later life when I was coming out I felt like I’ve been a victim of bullying, especially cyberbullying,” he said.

“So anyone out there who is experiencing bullying, remember your value. Remember your love. It’s a lot harder to go through bullying if you’re by yourself, so find an ally, talk to a teacher or parent or a friend,” he said while standing on a slope holding his skis.

Bean said the program expects to be in more than 50 schools and in three new cities for the 2018-2019 school year.

“MLB is extremely happy with the achievements of the Shred Hate Program after its first year,” Bean said. “We have worked very hard alongside our partners ESPN and No Bully and we have great optimism for the year two expansion of the program, and the potential to positively impact the lives of thousands of students,” he said.

“That success has only fortified our determination to grow the program and bring it to more MLB cities each year,” he said.

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Las Vegas Raiders head coach resigns after homophobic emails surface

Discovery made during misconduct investigation into the Washington Football Team

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Courtesy of ESPN

LAS VEGAS — The head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders, Jon Gruden resigned his post Monday after an article in the New York Times reported that he frequently used misogynistic and homophobic language directed at Commissioner Roger Goodell and others in the National Football League, (NFL).

The emails were discovered in a workplace misconduct investigation into the Washington Football Team the Times reported, but ended up costing Gruden his job when they also showed Gruden denounced the drafting of a gay player and the tolerance of players protesting during the playing of the national anthem among other issues.

In a statement released by the team late Monday, Gruden said; “I have resigned as Head Coach of the Las Vegas Raiders. I love the Raiders and do not want to be a distraction. Thank you to all the players, coaches, staff, and fans of Raider Nation. I’m sorry, I never meant to hurt anyone.”

The sequence of events started last Friday when the Wall Street Journal reported that Gruden used a racist term to describe NFL union chief DeMaurice Smith in a 2011 email to the Washington team’s former executive Bruce Allen.

According to the Associated Press, Gruden apologized for his “insensitive remarks” about Smith, saying they were made out of frustration over the 2011 lockout. But the latest emails sent from between 2011-18 when Gruden was an analyst for ESPN show his use of derogatory language went well beyond that.

A league source confirmed the accuracy of the emails to the Associated Press and said they were sent to the Raiders last week. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the league hasn’t made the emails public.

The New York Times and the Associated Press both noted that Gruden used a gay slur to insult Goodell and said he was “clueless” and “anti-football.” He also said Goodell shouldn’t have pressured the Rams to draft “queers,” a reference to Michael Sam, who was the first openly gay player drafted by an NFL team.

Gruden’s abrupt resignation was announced live on the Colts/Ravens “Monday Night Football” broadcast when the NFL ran multiple LGBTQ-inclusive advertisements, including one featuring an NFL logo wrapped in the colors of the Trans Flag and Rainbow Flag Gay City News Editor Matt Tracy reported.

Raiders owner Mark Davis issued a statement which only said that he accepted Gruden’s resignation. In a separate statement the Raiders announced that special teams and assistant head coach Rich Bisaccia will serve as Interim Head Coach of the Las Vegas Raiders, effective immediately.

“Coach Bisaccia will meet with the media at the regularly scheduled media availability on Wednesday,” the team said.

According to ESPN and the Associated Press, Bisaccia has been a special teams coordinator in the NFL for 19 seasons with the Raiders, Chargers, Dallas and Tampa Bay. He has no head coaching experience but his elevation will allow other assistants in the Raiders organization such as defensive coordinator Gus Bradley to stay in their current roles.

Jon Gruden resigns as Raiders head coach | SC with SVP

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New Zealand university names trans athlete ‘sportswoman of the year’

Laurel Hubbard is first out trans woman to compete in Olympics

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Screenshot via CBS Sports

DUNEDIN, New Zealand — Olympic weightlifter Laurel Hubbard was named “sportswoman of the year” at the prestigious 113-year-old University of Otago and OUSA Blues and Golds Awards event this past week.

The 43-year-old Queenstown, South Island, native was the first openly transgender woman to compete in an Olympics when she competed in the women’s 87kg weightlifting event at the 2021 Tokyo Games.

In a statement to the local newspaper, the Otago Daily Times, Hubbard said she was ‘‘grateful for all of the support and kindness received from the teaching staff and students at Otago University.’’

‘‘It is not possible for athletes to complete at the Olympic level without the encouragement and aroha [a Māori word meaning “love”] of friends, family and supporters.

‘‘This award belongs to everyone who has been part of my Olympic journey,’’ she told the paper.

Hubbard’s participation at the Tokyo Games had provoked controversy as she had prepared for competing as the world’s first out transgender woman Olympian. The director of medicine and science for the International Olympic Committee, Dr. Richard Budgett, directly addressed those who had attacked and mocked the New Zealander and claimed she shouldn’t be competing with cisgender women, saying  “everyone agrees that trans women are women.”

“To put it in a nutshell,” he said, “the IOC had a scientific consensus back in 2015. There are no IOC rules or regulations around transgender participation. That depends on each international federation. So Laurel Hubbard is a woman, is competing under the rules of her federation and we have to pay tribute to her courage and tenacity in actually competing and qualifying for the Games.”

Otago University Students’ Association president Michaela Waite-Harvey told the Otago Daily Times that the Blues awards aim to highlight Otago students excelling in their chosen sport.

‘‘We could think of no-one more worthy of sportswoman of the year than Laurel Hubbard who represented Otago and New Zealand incredibly well at this year’s Tokyo Olympics.’’

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Gold medalist Tom Daley battled COVID in hospital prior to Tokyo games

An x-ray revealed “blotches” on his lungs, and he was kept at the hospital for 10 hours to increase his oxygen levels

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Tom Daley (Photo by sportsphotographer.eu via Bigstock)

LONDON – British Olympic champion diver Tom Daley acknowledged in an recent interview with British newspaper The Times, that he had been secretly rushed to hospital seven months prior to the summer Tokyo Olympic games after contracting the coronavirus.

Daley told the paper “[my] lungs felt pressurised, as if they had sacks of rice around them”, and added: “Every time I stood up, I felt the room spinning and a blinding white light, as if I was going to faint, and as if I couldn’t get enough oxygen into my body.”

He went on to describe his ordeal in graphic details telling Times journalist Jane Mulkerrins that he gave specific instructions to his husband, screenwriter D. Lance Black one night as he headed off to sleep, what to do in the event he quit breathing.

He also told Mulkerrins he was frightened for their son Robbie if he and his husband both contracted the COVID-19 coronavirus, especially after he was rushed to hospital by ambulance unable to breath correctly.

When his head began to feel like it had “a vice tightening around it” and his “oxygen levels were dropping,” it was at that point Daley said he decided to call 111. [The UK’s emergency phone number]

‘My oxygen levels were dropping’

He was rushed to hospital in an ambulance and put on oxygen. An x-ray revealed “blotches” on his lungs, and he was kept at the hospital for 10 hours to increase his oxygen levels, The Times reported.

“I understood how quickly things could potentially go downhill,” said Daley.

“I had flashes of fear about whether I would be put on a ventilator, and my time being up. I was really terrified.”

He also described his reasons for keeping his ordeal secret so that his rivals in his sport wouldn’t know.

The episode kept the Olympian diver out of training for nearly seven months although Daley along with his British teammate diving partner Matty Lee won the gold with a score of 471.81 in the men’s synchronized diving on at the Tokyo 2021 games.

After tough competition in the Men’s 10m platform diving from China’s Cao Yuan who picked up the Gold Medal and his teammate Yang Jian cinching the number two spot with a Silver Medal, the 27-year-old Daley secured a Bronze Medal win with a score of 548.25.

It was the second Olympic Bronze Medal for the Plymouth, England native, in individual diving completion since he won bronze at the London Games in 2012. Daley and his teammate Daniel Goodfellow won a Bronze Medal in the 10m synchronised at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.

The Times interview comes as the paper’s magazine is serializing Daley’s new book, Coming Up for Air: What I Learned from Sport, Fame and Fatherhood, which is due to be published by Harper Collins on October 14.

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