In one of them, Gruden called NFL commissioner Roger Goodell a “f****t” and “clueless anti-football p***y”.
He also criticised Goodell for supposedly pressuring the St Louis Rams – which drafted openly gay player Michael Sam in 2014 – to hire “queers”.
Jon Gruden was working as an ESPN commentator at the time before rejoining the Raiders on a 10-year deal in 2018. He had previously worked as coach of the Raiders, who were located in Oakland at the time, from 1998 to 2001.
A new filing in Nevada state court saw the NFL argue that Gruden’s lawsuit shouldn’t go to court because they claimed to have evidence that the disgraced coach sent messages featuring hate-filled language to at least six people.
It had previously been reported that offensive language had only been used in the messages sent to former Washington Football Team president Bruce Allen.
The NFL’s legal team suggested that league commissioner Roger Goodell would have unilaterally fired Gruden due to the messages if the former coach hadn’t resigned.
A hearing will be held on the motions filed by the NFL and Jon Gruden on 23 February.
According to The Athletic, the filing read: “Jon Gruden sent a variety of similarly abhorrent emails to a half dozen recipients over a seven-year period, in which he denounced ‘the emergence of women as referees’ and frequently used homophobic and sexist slurs to refer to commissioner Goodell, then-vice president Joseph Biden, a gay professional football player drafted in 2014, and others.”
However, Gruden filed to sue the league in November and claimed that the emails were leaked in order to hurt him because of offensive things he had written about Goodell.
The NFL fought back again this claim in their filing as they wrote: “This action – brought by Jon Gruden to blame anyone but himself for the fallout from the publication of racist, homophobic and misogynistic emails that he wrote and broadly circulated – belongs in arbitration under the clear terms of Gruden’s employment contract and the NFL’s constitution and bylaws to which Gruden is bound.”
A Virginia lawmaker has introduced a bill that would ban transgender students from joining school sports teams that are consistent with their gender identity.
Senate Bill 766, which state Sen. Jennifer Kiggans (R-Virginia Beach) introduced on Friday, would require “each elementary or secondary school or a private school that competes in sponsored athletic events against such public schools to designate athletic teams, whether a school athletic team or an intramural team sponsored by such school, based on biological sex as follows: (i) ‘males,’ ‘men,’ or ‘boys’; (ii) ‘females,’ ‘women,’ or ‘girls’; or (iii) ‘coed’ or ‘mixed.’”
“Under the bill, male students are not permitted to participate on any school athletic team or squad designated for ‘females,’ ‘women,’ or ‘girls’; however, this provision does not apply to physical education classes at schools,” adds the bill. “The bill provides civil penalties for students and schools that suffer harm as a result of a violation of the bill. Such civil actions are required to be initiated within two years after the harm occurred.”
Kiggans introduced her bill less than a week after Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin took office.
Youngkin during his campaign said he does not support allowing trans children to play on sports teams that are consistent with their gender identity. Elizabeth Schultz, an anti-LGBTQ former member of the Fairfax County School Board, has been named the Virginia Department of Education’s Assistant Superintendent of Public Instruction.
The General Assembly’s 2022 legislative session began on Jan. 12 with Republicans in control of the state House of Delegates. Democrats still control the state Senate, and they have pledged to thwart any anti-LGBTQ bills.
“Let’s be clear: This is part of an ongoing, nationwide effort to exclude trans people from enjoying the benefits of sports like their cisgender peers,” tweeted the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia on Friday after Kiggans introduced SB 766. “We won’t tolerate this.”
The NCAA has adopted a sport-by-sport approach for transgender athletes, bringing the organization in line with the U.S. and International Olympic Committees.
Under the new guidelines, approved by the NCAA Board of Governors on Wednesday, transgender participation for each sport will be determined by the policy for the sport’s national governing body, subject to review and recommendation by an NCAA committee to the Board of Governors.
When there is no national governing body, that sport’s international federation policy would be in place. If there is no international federation policy, previously established IOC policy criteria would take over.
“Approximately 80% of U.S. Olympians are either current or former college athletes,” NCAA President Mark Emmert said in a release. “This policy alignment provides consistency and further strengthens the relationship between college sports and the U.S. Olympics.”
The NCAA policy is effective immediately, beginning with the 2022 winter championships.
NCAA rules on transgender athletes returned to the forefront when University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas started smashing records this year. She was on the men’s team her first three years, but she is competing for the women this season after transitioning.
The Board of Governors is suggesting NCAA divisions allow for additional eligibility if a transgender student-athlete loses eligibility based on the policy change. That flexibility is provided they meet the NCAA’s new guidelines.
“We are steadfast in our support of transgender student-athletes and the fostering of fairness across college sports,” Georgetown President John DeGioia said in a release. “It is important that NCAA member schools, conferences and college athletes compete in an inclusive, fair, safe and respectful environment and can move forward with a clear understanding of the new policy.”
Chris Dickerson, who holds the duel honour of being the first Black man to win the Mr America contest and first openly gay man to win Mr Olympia, has died aged 82.
Dickerson was a powerhouse of the bodybuilding community and broke barriers. He died on 23 December at a hospital in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, with his friend Bill Neylon confirming the cause of death as a heart ailment, the Washington Post reported.
Neylon – a retired amateur bodybuilder who trained alongside Dickerson – said his friend had lived in a rehab centre after he had been hospitalised for a broken hip in 2020, had a heart attack and COVID-19.
He told the New York Timesthat Dickerson “brought class and dignity and culture to bodybuilding”.
Chris Dickerson’s storied career spanned over three decades, and he won over 50 titles. He ended his career having won four major bodybuilding titles: Mr Olympia, Mr America, Mr Universe and the Pro Mr America.
Dickerson trained in opera and dance before beginning to lift weights to build up his chest and expand his vocal range.
He was named Mr America in 1970, becoming the first Black winner of the bodybuilding competition. He was also one of the first Black men to win the Mr Universe competition in 1982.
Dickerson was also gay, which was widely known in bodybuilding circles by the late 1970s. But he didn’t publicly discuss his sexuality at the height of his career, the New York Times reported.
Dickerson acknowledged that being gay and Black was a barrier for him in the bodybuilding world.
Another queer Team USA athlete has just qualified for the Winter Olympics – skeleton slider Andrew Blaser.
Blaser beat out skeleton veterans Austin Florian and John Daly to become the only man on the Team USA skeleton team for the 2022 games in Beijing.
It’s the first time that the US is sending only one male skeleton athlete to the Olympics – so no pressure at all.
The truly terrifying winter sport involves sledders plummeting head-first down a steep and perilous icy track on a tiny sled. According to the Olympics website, it is considered to be the “world’s first sliding sport”.
Other LGBT+ athletes heading for the Winter Olympics, according to OutSports, also include British curler Bruce Mouat, Australian snowboarder Belle Brockhoff, French figure skater Kevin Aymoz and Dutch speedskater Ireen Wüst – the most decorated Olympic speedskater ever.
The LGBT+ sports website says that the Beijing Games will include more out athletes than any before it.
Also heading for Beijing are ice dancers Guillaume Cizeron (France) and Paul Poirier (Canada), and Canadian figure skater Eric Radford.
Only 15 openly LGBT+ athletes competed at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
Skeleton returned to the Winter Olympics in 2022, having last appeared on the program 54 years prior in 1948. Blaser is the first out gay man to represent Team USA in the sport.
He previously told OutSports that there have been several times where he considered walking away from the sport.
But looking back at all his accomplishments in skeleton, he realised he could succeed.
“I have had so many moments where I have ‘quit’ mentally and thought I was done and walking away,” Blaser said. “Looking back at every conversation with every coach where I was defeated or thought it couldn’t be done, now I know that it can be done.”
Blaser started as a track and field athlete, even competing at the University of Idaho as a pole vaulter and hurdler.
After college, Blaser wanted to pursue a career as a bobsledder but tried skeleton after coaches said he’d be better suited to the super face ice sport. But Blaser initially hated the sport and quit before eventually returning to go pro.
When he’s not training, Andrew Blaser enjoys travelling, camping and singing. His favourite movies include Love Actually and Mean Girls, according to his Team USA profile.
Openly gay Brazilian Olympic diver Ian Matos died aged 32 following a severe infection that left him hospitalised.
Matos had been in hospital for two months before his condition worsened on Wednesday (22 December), the Sun reported. He had initially sought treatment because of an infection in his throat which later spread to his stomach and lungs.
He had won three bronze medals in the 2010 South American Games. He placed eighth in the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro where he competed in the men’s synchronised three-metre springboard alongside his diving partner Luiz Outerelo.
Brazil’s Olympic Committee said in a statement that it is “profoundly saddened” to have received the “news of the premature death” of Matos.
The statement continued: “Team Brazil acknowledges his contribution to the evolution of the discipline.
“Our sincere condolences to his family and friends.”
“From a young age, I knew I was gay, but it was here that I got to live my sexuality,” Matos said at the time, referring to his home in Rio.
According to OutSports, Matos said a friend advised him to stay in the closet until after the 2016 Olympic games. But he said the pressure of hiding boyfriends, avoiding queer parties and not being able to live his truth was ultimately too much for the young diver.
At the time, Ian Matos had been part of a small number of out LGBT+ Olympic athletes. A then record-breaking 56 openly-LGBT+ athletes competed in the 2016 Rio games, OutSports reported.
In last summer’s Tokyo Summer Olympics, there were at least 186 out athletes, more than triple the number who participated in the Rio Olympics.
A swimmer at the University of Pennsylvania is the latest target in the culture-war debate over whether transgender girls and women should be allowed to participate on female sports teams.
Lia Thomas, who came out as trans in 2019, set three school records and two national records at a meet this month.
Since then, Thomas has faced criticism and verbal attacks from anti-trans groups, conservative media and, reportedly, even two teammates.
Some of the headlines about Thomas’ wins said she “smashed” the records and continued her “dominant” season alongside pre-transition photos of her and using her previous name and male pronouns — practices known as deadnaming and misgendering.
Transgender advocates have condemned that coverage and some of the conversation about Thomas as transphobic. They said it mischaracterizes her victories to make it appear that transgender women are cheating just by being trans and implies that one trans woman winning means trans women generally are dominating women’s sports. They note that Thomas is competing within guidance issued by the National Collegiate Athletic Association.
Thomas’ critics have varying views. Some have used explicitly anti-transgender language and argue that trans women should be completely banned from women’s sports, while others argue that the NCAA’s policy regarding trans athletes’ participation isn’t strict enough.
Thomas declined an interview with NBC News and has done only one recent interview, with the podcast SwimSwam. In that interview, she said she and her coaches expected that there would be “some measure of pushback” in response to her competing, but not “quite to the extent that it has blown up.”
“I just don’t engage with it,” she said, regarding the criticism. “It’s not healthy for me to read it and engage with it at all, and so I don’t, and that’s all I’ll say on that.”
Swimming as her ‘authentic self’
Thomas swam on the men’s team for her first three years at Penn, and for part of that time, she said she was transitioning. She started her medical transition in May 2019 and began gender-affirming hormones, also known as hormone replacement therapy, which for her included testosterone blockers and estrogen. She said she decided to swim out the 2018-19 season on the men’s team without coming out, which “caused a lot of distress for me,” she told SwimSwam.
“I was struggling,” she said. “My mental health was not very good. There was a lot of unease about basically just feeling trapped in my body, like it didn’t align.”
She came out to her coaches and teammates in the fall of 2019, and swam the rest of her junior year, the 2019-20 season, on the men’s team as well — a time she described as “an uncomfortable experience.”
By the summer of 2020, she had been on testosterone suppressants for a full year, meeting a guideline set by the NCAA in 2011. Its handbook for transgender athletes states: “A trans female treated with testosterone suppression medication may continue to compete on a men’s team but may not compete on a women’s team without changing it to a mixed team status until completing one year of testosterone suppression treatment.” She said she submitted medical information that included blood tests of her hormone levels. The NCAA approved her request and cleared her to compete on the women’s team that fall.
But then Covid-19 led to nationwide lockdowns, and the Ivy League canceled its swimming season. Thomas said she decided to take the year off to save her eligibility, “given how important it is to me to be able to compete and swim as my authentic self.”
She began competing on the women’s team in November, at the start of the 2021-22 season, and said she has been on hormone therapy for just over two and a half years.
Thomas has performed well at nearly every meet so far this season, but the media firestorm began after her performance at the Zippy Invitational at the University of Akron in Ohio, where she won three events and set three program, meet and pool records, along with two national records. In the 1,650-yard freestyle in particular, she was 38 seconds ahead of teammate Anna Kalandadze, who finished second. Right-wing media outlets have shared video of Thomas winning the race on social media.
Since then, she’s received international media attention, and two of her teammates, speaking anonymously, reportedly told the sports website OutKick that they disagree with her participation, viewing it as unfair. NBC News has been unable to verify these reports. University of Pennsylvania Athletics and several members of the women’s swim team have not responded to requests for comment.
Some critics have argued that Thomas’ performance is evidence that she has inherent physical advantages from going through male puberty and having higher testosterone levels. As a result, they argue that the NCAA should bar trans women from female sports teams or change its policy, saying that requiring one year of testosterone suppressants for trans women isn’t enough.
“While the NCAA’s rules demand the use of testosterone suppressants for a specific duration, the current requirements are not rigid enough and do not produce an authentic competitive atmosphere,” John Lohn, editor-in-chief of Swimming World magazine, wrote in an op-ed. “It is obvious that one year is not a sufficient timeframe to offer up a level playing field. Athletes transitioning from male to female possess the inherent advantage of years of testosterone production and muscle-building.”
Some researchers and advocates disagree, including at least one researcher who supports what is widely considered a more middle-of-the-road approach.
Joanna Harper, visiting fellow for transgender athletic performance at England’s Loughborough University, published the first performance analysis of transgender athletes in 2015. Harper, a trans runner who has master’s degrees in physics and medical physics, evaluated the race times of eight trans women distance runners after they transitioned and found that they were no more competitive in the female division than they had been in the male division.
She noted that it was a small study and that it doesn’t apply to any sport other than distance running, but that it was and still is the only published data on transgender athletes. She is currently conducting three studies of how hormone therapy affects transgender athletes, though she said she is still gathering data, which could take years.
In addition to her research, one oft-cited study published last year in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that transgender women in the Air Force performed better on fitness tests after one year of hormone therapy when compared to cisgender women. After two years, their performance was “fairly equivalent” to cisgender women, the study’s author, Dr. Timothy Roberts, told NBC News this year.
Harper said she’s been following the news about Thomas closely and believes it’s true that trans women will maintain some advantages even after hormone therapy. But she said Thomas — who is swimming slower now than she did pre-transition — is just one person, and she doesn’t represent all trans athletes.
“I have seen trans athletes who undergo transition — and either because they don’t adapt well to the change in their testosterone levels, or they had trouble with the medication, or perhaps their life focus changes somewhat — who are not nearly as successful after transition as they were before,” Harper said. “And we’re never going to hear in the media of those trans women who are less successful after transition than they were before because they’re not successful.”
She said she believes that the NCAA’s guideline of requiring one year of hormone therapy is “perfectly reasonable,” and that it “will result in meaningful competition between trans women and cis women,” or women who are not trans.
She added that the NCAA’s rule has been in place for 10 years, and that trans women “aren’t taking over NCAA sports and are still underrepresented.” She noted that there are more than 200,000 women who compete in the NCAA every year, and that trans people make up about 1 percent of the population. If they were proportionally represented in the NCAA, there should be about 2,000 trans women competing, but she estimates there are less than 100 each year.
“We’ve never seen a transgender NCAA champion, and Lia is not likely to do it either,” Harper said. “But even if she did win an NCAA championship, we should see a few trans women each and every year winning NCAA Division 1 championships. So at some point it has to happen, and this idea that it’s some horrible miscarriage of justice that Lia is successful just doesn’t add up.”
Is the NCAA policy working?
The NCAA’s policy regarding trans women athletes is considered among the strictest of sports governing bodies, especially after the International Olympic Committee nixed testosterone testing and limits for trans women athletes in a new set of guidance released in November.
Anne Lieberman, director of policy for Athlete Ally, a group that advocates for LGBTQ-inclusive sports policies, said that part of the conversation about Thomas has been focused on whether the NCAA policy is “working.”
“What do we mean by ‘working’? So for many people, working means that it will prevent trans athletes from either succeeding or even participating in college athletics — and I think that that’s an important distinction,” said Lieberman, who uses gender-neutral pronouns. “Trans athletes — Lia, in particular — deserve love, support, care, access to be able to swim. And Lia, like any other athlete, should be able to win and lose.”
Lieberman said they don’t think the conversation about Thomas is just about sports, because, they noted, there hasn’t been an issue with the NCAA policy in the last 10 years. Rather, they said the conversation about Thomas and trans athletes generally is part of the “fuel for the political fire that is absolutely ravaging trans rights in this country.”
Ten states — nine this year — have passed laws that ban trans girls and women from playing on female sports teams. More than 20 additional states considered similar bills. Over two dozen states also weighed legislation that would ban trans minors from accessing gender-affirming medical care such as hormones and puberty blockers. Governors in two states — Arkansas and Tennessee — signed such legislation into law, though a judge blocked Arkansas’ law from taking effect in July.
“While people might think more broadly that this is just about sports, this is really about the broader conversation about the humanity of trans folks and whether or not we deserve to participate in all aspects of life in society, and that includes college sports,” they said.
Gillian Branstetter, press secretary for the National Women’s Law Center, added that there are real needs that female athletes have, including equity in funding, safety from harassment, mental health support and making sure they have equitable facilities.
“I don’t know that if you were to poll female athletes the participation of people like Lia Thomas would come up very much,” she said. “There are much bigger issues at hand for female athletes, and people who think that they’re saving women’s sports by putting forward their transphobia have never expressed a single piece of interest in saving women’s sports before.”
In participation with the NFL’s My Cause My Cleats fundraiser, Nassib created the rainbow cleats this season to spotlight the LGBTQ youth suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization the Trevor Project.
As part of the campaign, players can custom design their own cleats to raise awareness for the nonprofit organizations of their choice. Players then auction off the cleats to raise money for the groups. https://iframe.nbcnews.com/mQeU0Lh?_showcaption=true&app=1
Cyd Zeigler, LGBTQ advocate and co-founder of the LGBTQ sports site Outsports.com, celebrated Nassib’s support, conceding that visible support for the LGBTQ community is a rarity among NFL players.
“I have been, for a couple of years, pointing to the fact that no NFL players ever choose LGBTQ causes and it’s a real source of disappointment,” Zeigler said of the cleats campaign, which began in 2016. “People talk about the importance of allies and I say all the time, that we can’t wait for allies to show up, that LGBTQ people have to push for our own visibility and our own equality.”
Before this year, Miami Dolphins receiver Preston Williams was the only NFL player out of hundreds to highlight LGBTQ causes. Williams dedicated his cleats in 2019 to the Miami-based LGBTQ advocacy group Pridelines.
Nassib’s cleats featured the Trevor Project’s name printed in bright orange and the number to its suicide prevention lifeline: 1-866-488-7386. He previously donated $100,000 to the group when came out earlier this year.https:
But Nassib was not the only player to support LGBTQ causes this year. Cleveland Browns fullback and LGBTQ ally Johnny Stanton, whose uncle is gay, created rainbow cleats in support of Athlete Ally, which promotes LGBTQ inclusion in sports.
“No one should feel unwelcome on the field or the court. If just one person being an ally can help them feel more comfortable, then I’m happy to be that person,” Stanton said in a statement the NFL shared on Twitter last week.
There are many reasons to boycott China, not least of which is its treatment of the Uyghurs; an unofficial U.K. tribunal this week said Chinese President Xi Jinping is responsible for “genocide, crimes against humanity and torture” of minorities in Xinjiang.
Add to the list the mysterious and alarming case of Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai, who disappeared for two weeks after publicly accusing Zhang Gaoli, a member of China’s ruling committee, of sexual assault. Within 20 minutes of her post on China’s equivalent of Twitter, government censors scrambled to scrub any mention of it from the Internet, as the New York Times reported Friday. China’s efforts to deny anything was amiss by posting photos and videos of Peng were clumsy and ineffective and quickly ridiculed by the twitterverse.
Earlier this month, the Women’s Tennis Association took the brave step of suspending all tournaments in China in protest of her obvious detention and censoring.
“While we now know where Peng is, I have serious doubts that she is free, safe and not subject to censorship, coercion and intimidation,” Steve Simon, chief executive of the Women’s Tennis Association, said in a statement as reported by the New York Times. “If powerful people can suppress the voices of women and sweep allegations of sexual assault under the rug, then the basis on which the WTA was founded — equality for women — would suffer an immense setback. I will not and cannot let that happen to the WTA and its players.”
So far, the WTA is the only major sports organization to announce a boycott of China, but the organizers of Gay Games 11, scheduled for 2023 in Hong Kong, should be next.
Gay Games organizers excitedly announced a new logo for the 2023 Games two weeks ago, adding the colors of the Progress Pride flag to recognize communities of color. But so far those same organizers are silent on the plight of Peng, a woman of color herself, and a fellow athlete who was targeted by China for making an accusation of assault.
When asked by the Blade if the Federation of Gay Games would consider a boycott of China, it issued a cowardly statement that ignored the central question of Peng’s plight and well being.
“The Federation of Gay Games continues to monitor the situation in Hong Kong regarding COVID-19, the National Security Law and all other aspects that affect the safety and security of our event,” Sean Fitzgerald, co-president of the Federation of Gay Games, told the Blade in a statement. “We are committed to hosting Gay Games 11 in Hong Kong in November 2023.”
The Federation of Gay Games’s claims of supporting people of color and athletes of color ring hollow when its leaders won’t even mention Peng’s name in response to a direct question about her plight.
The Federation should reconsider its posture, denounce China’s treatment and censorship of Peng, and move Gay Games 11 to another locale in protest.
Boycotts are divisive tactics and one Hong Kong LGBTQ activist this week told the Blade she doesn’t support the idea. “In Hong Kong, the team behind Gay Games has really worked tirelessly to bring it to Hong Kong and it will be a very good opportunity to showcase diversity and people working together and the human spirit at its best,” Gigi Chao told the Blade.
But what does it say about the queer community if we fail to take a stand even after the WTA has acted so boldly and decisively in its own boycott? The Biden administration on Monday announced a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics that are slated to take place in Beijing in February. A Gay Games boycott would be consistent with our own government’s efforts to hold China accountable for Peng, the Uyghurs, and other human rights abuses.
The Federation of Gay Games has an opportunity to stand in solidarity with the WTA and Peng and send a powerful message that the LGBTQ community will not reward a regime that engages in overt censorship while covering up allegations of sexual assault by sending hundreds of athletes and millions of dollars to Hong Kong in 2023.
As Qatar prepares to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup, the government has assured prospective visitors it will welcome lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) tourists and that fans will be free to fly the rainbow flag at the games. But for LGBT Qataris like Mohammed, openly expressing his sexuality as a gay man is not an option. Doing so, he fears, would land him backin jail.
Mohammed was arrested in 2014 for alleged same-sex conduct, punishable by up to seven years’ imprisonment under article 285 of Qatar’s penal code. While in detention, officers searched his phone, identified a man he’d been messaging, and attempted to contact this person to target him as well. Mohammed was detained for weeks, enduring verbal abuse and sexual harassment by police. Officers even shaved his head.
Seven years later, Mohammed has resigned himself to a life of discretion: he dresses in a masculine style, refrains from posting about his sexuality online, and no longer meets men from dating apps.
“There is zero freedom [to post anything related to sexuality online],” Mohammed said.
As Qatar advances its surveillance capabilities, including inside football stadiums, the possibility of LGBT Qataris being persecuted for publicly supporting LGBT rights will remain long after the international fans have gone.
Physical and virtual spaces free from surveillance are vanishing in Qatar as data protection law allows broad exemptions that undermine the right to privacy. When digital surveillance is combined with laws that target individuals based on consensual sexual conduct outside of marriage, there is nowhere left to hide.
The Qatari government should repeal article 285 and all other laws that criminalize consensual sexual relations outside of marriage and leave people like Mohammed living in fear in the shadows. Freedom of expression and nondiscrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity should be guaranteed for all Qataris, not just spectators and tourists flocking to Qatar for the World Cup.