MLB Touts New Sexual Orientation Policy, but Impact Unclear

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By Brett Snider, Esq. on July 16, 2013 11:56 AM

The MLB is joining its major sports league peers by preparing to unveil a new sexual orientation discrimination and harassment policy during the league's All-Star Game on Tuesday.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman helped Major League Baseball (MLB) draft the new sexual orientation policy, calling it a "clear stand against discrimination," reports The Associated Press.

Although MLB already has a non-discrimination policy, this new policy will specifically include sexual orientation in a bid to include gay athletes.

Harassment and Non-Discrimination Policy

Although the official details of the MLB's sexual orientation policy are unclear, the league's commissioner Bud Selig stated that the MLB "has a zero-tolerance policy for harassment and discrimination based on sexual orientation," reports The Associated Press.

Not that anyone would doubt Selig's conviction, the NFL currently has a sexual orientation non-harassment policy, which hasn't been incredibly effective in deterring coaches from asking if NFL hopefuls "like girls."

Despite its actual success in enforcing the policy, the MLB's new sexual orientation guidelines would seek to insulate the league from future discrimination or harassment lawsuits -- suits that may become even easier to pursue if new federal employment laws pass.

Current LGBT Protections

The professional baseball association already has general policies in place pertaining to discrimination. The executive director of the MLB Players Association (MLBPA), Michael Weiner, told the AP that the players' union "welcomes all regardless of race, religion and sexual orientation."

Weiner isn't just blowing smoke. The MLB's collective bargaining agreement was amended in 2011 to add "sexual orientation" to its section on discrimination, reports the New York Daily News.

None of these policies have publicly been put to the test, however, as the MLB hasn't had an openly gay player since Glenn Burke played for the Los Angeles Dodgers in the mid-to-late 70s, reports Think Progress.

No Openly Gay Players

Some are suspicious of the praise given to the MLB's new policy. They're critical of the MLB touting itself as a "haven of nondiscrimination" when the league has exactly zero openly gay athletes, reports Queerty.

It is uncertain what sort of impact such a policy can have when the concerns and interests of the players protected by the policy are hypothetical or, at the very least, anonymous.

On a less cynical note, these policies may clear the way for professional baseball players to join openly gay athletes like Robbie Rogers (soccer) and Jason Collins (basketball) in coming out while playing America's pastime.

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