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The Importance of Pride Month in MLB

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June is Pride Month in the United States. By way of explanation:

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month (LGBT Pride Month) is currently celebrated each year in the month of June to honor the 1969 Stonewall riots in Manhattan. The Stonewall riots were a tipping point for the Gay Liberation Movement in the United States. In the United States the last Sunday in June was initially celebrated as “Gay Pride Day,” but the actual day was flexible. In major cities across the nation the “day” soon grew to encompass a month-long series of events. Today, celebrations include pride parades, picnics, parties, workshops, symposia and concerts, and LGBT Pride Month events attract millions of participants around the world. Memorials are held during this month for those members of the community who have been lost to hate crimes or HIV/AIDS. The purpose of the commemorative month is to recognize the impact that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals have had on history locally, nationally, and internationally.

You can read more about the Stonewall riots here for greater context. Essentially, though, Pride Month is a time not just to celebrate gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer people in the United States, but also to highlight the current state of LGBTQ+ rights in the United States. For our purposes, it also represents an opportune moment to examine the current state of LGBTQ+ issues in baseball.

A couple of years ago, Gallup found that 4.1% of Americans overall, and 7.3% of millennials, identify as LGBT, although the demographer who published that data suspects that, after accounting for those respondents who are unwilling to disclose details regarding their sexuality, the overall figure is probably closer to 10%.

Britni de la Cretaz, who’s written a number of fascinating stories on the intersection of sport, gender, and sexuality, wrote an article last month exploring queer women in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, a facet ignored by A League of Their Own. And two major leaguers have come out as gay: Glenn Burke and Billy Bean.

But in another sense, baseball generally, and MLB specifically, has a lot of work to do when it comes to LGBT inclusion. Both Burke and Bean came out after their playing days were over. David Denson, the first openly gay player in affiliated ball to come out while still playing, has since retired. And while Denson said his retirement wasn’t related to his coming-out – and that his teammates were largely supportive – he nevertheless related to Bleacher Report some cringeworthy tales from his time in baseball clubhouses.

He was with the Brewers’ rookie-level team in Helena, Montana, last July, just another game day in another minor league town. When the rain swept in following batting practice and the team retreated into the clubhouse, the players did what players have been doing during rain delays since the invention of the tarp. They started teasing each other. In Denson walked and one of his teammates ribbed him, calling him a maricon. The word is a Spanish slang term for f—-t.

With Denson’s retirement, there are now no openly LGBT players anywhere in affiliated baseball. Given there are more than 3,500 affiliated players at any given time, we’d expect, using Gallup’s 4.1% figure, to find at least 140 LGBT players in affiliated baseball. And while it’s certainly possible that there are fewer LGBT people playing baseball than in the general population, the idea that there are none at all beggars belief. It is, of course, entirely possible that it’s not homophobia or transphobia at work here; after all, as Dan Avery wrote for NewNowNext, baseball presents obstacles unique to professional sports.

“The obvious reason is no one has had the courage to do it,” OutSports’ Cyd Zeigler tells NewNowNext. “One of the things that makes baseball unique is the minor league system. People are brought up and put back all the time. In baseball, your position is always less secure than other pro sports.”

To their credit, MLB has taken some steps to protect LGBT players. USA Baseball’s Amateur Resource Center includes information on LGBT inclusion, and MLB’s CBA actually contains language in Article XV, Section A, barring discrimination on, among other things, sexual orientation (though gender identity isn’t, regrettable, mentioned). And Attachment 50 to the CBA and MLB’s Code of Conduct both prohibit “bullying” or “[d]emeaning comments about someone’s race, gender, color, religion, national origin, or sexual orientation, including offensive names or phrases, or jokes about someone’s conformity with gender norms.” That language would seem to protect both gay and transgender baseball players, at least in part – so long as it’s enforced. MLB has made strides in that area, most notably suspending Yunel Escobar three games for a homophobic slur in his eye black.

But former Cardinals farmhand Tyler Dunnington, who is gay but was closeted while playing professionally, tells a far darker story of professional baseball’s attitudes towards LGBT people. Said Dunnington to Outsports’ Cyd Zeigler:

I was also one of the unfortunate closeted gay athletes who experienced years of homophobia in the sport I loved. I was able to take most of it with a grain of salt but towards the end of my career I could tell it was affecting my relationships with people, my performance, and my overall happiness.

I experienced both coaches and players make remarks on killing gay people during my time in baseball, and each comment felt like a knife to my heart. I was miserable in a sport that used to give me life, and ultimately I decided I needed to hang up my cleats for my own sanity.

At least publicly, there’s also been backlash against players like Daniel Murphy, who said of MLB’s Inclusion Ambassador, Billy Bean, that “I disagree with his lifestyle… I do disagree with the fact that Billy is a homosexual.” Sexual orientation and gender identity, it should be noted, are experienced as immutable characteristics of a person’s identity (and not mere lifestyle choices). Murphy’s comments, to be fair, do contain some level of nuance. “Just because I disagree with the lifestyle,” said the Nationals second baseman, “doesn’t mean I’m just never going to speak to Billy Bean every time he walks through the door. That’s not love. That’s not love at all.”

Baseball’s struggles with LGBT inclusion also aren’t limited to players. In honor of Pride Month, 23 teams are holding a Pride Night at their respective ballparks in 2018. Of the 30 MLB teams, two have still never held a Pride Night – the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Angels. The Yankees have evidently not yet held a Pride Night because they “sh[y] away from promotions with an ethnic or cultural flavor.” David Kilmnick, head of the LGBT Network, told the New York Times that although he pitched the Yankees on both a Pride Night and LGBT sensitivity training for employees, the team rejected those proposals. “I haven’t received any interest,” he told the Times. But when minor-league teams like the Lehigh Valley IronPigs have begun holding pride nights, the sustained holdout of the Yankees and Angels is increasingly conspicuous.

As MLB looks to find itself in this new millennium, the talk of pitch clocks and banning shifts might be overstated relative to broader demographic issues. MLB can retain its place as America’s pastime by ensuring it actually reflects America — which means, in part, including LGBT people. If 1-in-10 Americans is LGBT — and many more than that, presumably, are sympathetic to the experience of LGBT people — then we’re talking about a pretty large swath of the population. Hosting pride nights might, at some level, be a relevant as pursuing pace-of-play initiatives.

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annacreech
4 days ago
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The Impact of the NFL’s Anthem Rule on Baseball

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On Wednesday, one of the top stories across the sports world was the National Football League’s institution of a new policy banning players from kneeling in protest during the national anthem.

From ESPN’s Kevin Seifert and Dan Graziano:

 NFL owners have unanimously approved a new national anthem policy that requires players to stand if they are on the field during the performance but gives them the option to remain in the locker room if they prefer, it was announced Wednesday.

The policy subjects teams to a fine if a player or any other team personnel do not show respect for the anthem. That includes any attempt to sit or kneel, as dozens of players have done during the past two seasons to protest racial inequality and police brutality. Those teams also will have the option to fine any team personnel, including players, for the infraction.

A couple of notes here: the policy was unanimous among owners who voted; the San Francisco 49ers abstained from the vote. Also, this policy was evidently something of a compromise; the league was previously throwing around ideas like a 15-yard penalty for kneeling.

The previous policy required players to be on the field for the anthem but said only that they “should” stand. When then-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began kneeling in 2016, the league had no rule it could use to prevent it. The movement drew increasing criticism from President Donald Trump, as well as many fans, who believed it was a sign of disrespect toward the flag and country.

Owners, however, had been divided on how to extricate the league from that criticism. Some owners, including the Dallas Cowboys’ Jerry Jones and the Houston Texans’ Bob McNair, wanted all players to stand. Others, such as the New York Jets’ Christopher Johnson, wanted to avoid any appearance of muzzling players.

Even the seemingly simple option of clearing the field prior to the anthem was rejected by some owners who thought it would be interpreted as a mass protest or at least a sign of disrespect.

But it wasn’t a compromise with the union; the NFLPA said it wasn’t even consulted.

So how does this impact Major League Baseball? More than you might think. There’s actually no rule on the national anthem in MLB right now — there’s not even a rule requiring that it be played at all — which makes baseball unique among the major North American sports. Both the NBA and WNBA require players to stand for the anthem. When asked by Seifert, an MLB spokesman said this:

While this is not a league rule, the playing of the national anthems of the United States and Canada remains an important tradition that has great meaning to our fans. The playing of ‘God Bless America’ at designated games is a club choice.

But the absence of a rule doesn’t mean this isn’t an issue. Orioles center fielder Adam Jones had told USA Today last year that he didn’t expect such a protest to occur — and then, two weeks later, A’s catcher Bruce Maxwell knelt during the national anthem before a game last year.

Maxwell’s decision to kneel came after President Donald Trump — speaking on Friday in Huntsville, Ala., where Maxwell grew up — made reference to NFL players not standing for the anthem as employees who, as he put it, should be fired by their teams. Maxwell, an African-American raised in a military family, joins Colin Kaepernick and other athletes in attempting to raise awareness about brutality and injustice at the hands of authorities by kneeling during the anthem.

Maxwell received relatively little pushback, but then, he was also the first MLB player to kneel during the anthem, at least in the 21st century. He also knelt for just two games, and said himself that his anthem protest wouldn’t continue this season.

So clearly the idea of anthem protests — and a policy banning them — is a controversial one, and the incidents which athletes are protesting continue to occur. It’s also one on which the MLBPA has thus far declined comment. If MLB wanted to create a Rule, like the NFL and NBA, requiring players to stand for the national anthem, could it?

Let’s start by examining some of the more popular tweets from Wednesday.

This is a smattering of the prevailing back-and-forth on Twitter, which seems to focus on whether and how this policy impacts players’ First Amendment rights. However…

Before I continue, please note: I am not saying the NFL is correct or incorrect. What I am saying, however, is that just about every non-lawyer in the twitterverse invoking the First Amendment on this issue — on both sides — is absolutely wrong.

Let’s start with the First Amendment:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Note the first word in this amendment: Congress. The First Amendment, on its face, is a restriction on Congress only, and that’s for a reason: Congress makes the laws. (There are also federal regulations, which are also laws — or at least have the force of laws — but they’re also pursuant to Congressional grants of authority and limited by something called the non-delegation doctrine, so really they’re pursuant to Congress’s authority.) So basically all the First Amendment guarantees where freedom of speech is concerned is that the government* cannot pass a law which restricts the content of what you’re saying.

*The States have to follow the First Amendment because of something called incorporation, a full explanation of which would be both tedious and unnecessary. For our purposes, it’s enough to know that the Fourteenth Amendment says that the States have to adhere to the first ten amendments to the Constitution (called the “Bill of Rights“), and that includes that states must follow the First Amendment too.

Yes, that’s right — I said “content.” Because the federal government can restrict the time, place, and manner of that content. Here’s the classic example: you cannot shout “fire!” in a crowded movie theater. It’s also a terrible example, because you legally (under the First Amendment, anyway) can shout “fire” in a crowded movie theater.** That’s because the case that said you couldn’t, Schenck v. United States, was overruled 50 years later in Brandenburg v. Ohio.

**That said, it’s still not advisable to shout “fire!” in a crowded movie theater. You might not get arrested, but you will get kicked out of the theater, and you almost certainly will get sued. 

A time, place, and manner restriction is the sort of thing that requires you to get a permit before a march, or a municipal ordinance saying that you can’t make excessive noise at 2:00 am. The city can’t pass a law saying that Nazis aren’t allowed to march, but it can pass a law saying no one can march on private property, or that no one can march at 2:00 am, or that you can’t march with bullhorns and fire trucks. That’s because, while the government is essentially categorically prohibited from restricting what you say, they can regulate how and when and where you say it, within boundaries.

Now you’re probably wondering why time, place, and manner restrictions matter here. As noted previously, the First Amendment is a restriction on governments, not private corporations. Because the NFL isn’t the government (yet), that would seem to suggest that the NFL is permitted to tell team employees whether they can protest while at work, righ

For another reason, however, that might not be the case.

There’s a wrinkle here and it concerns the location of the protests — specifically, in major-league sports stadiums, almost all of which are built with government money. Many of those stadiums are even still owned by governments. And that makes them public fora. For our purposes, a public forum is a place, like a sidewalk or a street or a public park, where the government has to allow expression of opinions. That also means that owners are limited by the First Amendment when promulgating rules restricting speech, because it’s a government venue they are regulating.

It’s also possible that the players themselves are not the only issue here. Owner rules can be struck down even if they violate the speech rights of non-parties to the suit. So let’s say that the NFL — or an NFL owner — interprets this Rule to apply to fans as well as players. That’s almost certainly unconstitutional and violative of the First Amendment, even though the NFL isn’t the government, because the enforcement is taking place in a government-sponsored venue.

***I am not going to differentiate here between types of public fora. If you’re interested in learning about that, read this.

So what if MLB enacted the NFL’s policy but made clear it applied only to players? Then it would be governed largely as a matter of labor law. Michael McCann, in a piece I highly recommend, found it was no sure thing that an NFL team could fine or discipline a player for kneeling during the anthem. As for MLB, a team would have an even more uphill battle. Here’s why:

That’s from the Major League Uniform Player’s Contract, and this is the exclusive list of reasons for which a team may terminate a player. That “good citizenship” includes protesting is an easy case to make in a courtroom. So a team can’t fire a player. How about fining or suspending a player?

This is probably the only provision in the CBA that gives MLB authority to discipline a player for kneeling during the national anthem. (In fact, the word “protest” appears nowhere in the CBA.) However, this provision doesn’t override federal or state law. As McCann notes,

For instance, a player could pursue remedies offered by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The EEOC is a federal agency that reviews charges of discrimination. Federal laws guarantee that employees cannot be subject to different types of discrimination as well as certain kinds of employer retaliation. If, for instance, an African American player could show that being fired for protesting the national anthem is associated to his race, he would have a plausible argument that he has been subject to race discrimination. Likewise, if other players supportive of the protests are fired as retaliation, those players might have suffered unlawful harassment. EEOC charges take time to play out, and are complicated in this context by the presence of a CBA. Still, a fired player might seek relief from the EEOC.

And state laws like this one, apply too:

Connecticut has enacted a statute titled, “Liability of employer for discipline or discharge of employee on account of employee’s exercise of certain constitutional rights.” This statute expresses that employers can’t discipline or fire employees on account of those employees exercising their First Amendment right to free speech.

So here are the takeaways. MLB isn’t a government, so it can’t directly infringe a player’s First Amendment rights. But a rule affecting players is still unconstitutional if it is applied to non-players because stadiums are public fora and such a rule would infringe on fans’ First Amendment rights. It probably can’t terminate players for protesting under the uniform contract, because courts consider protesting to be a form of citizenship and protesting racially-based police brutality is probably protected under race discrimination laws. And other discipline, while possibly legal under federal labor law, may be illegal under state laws like those in Connecticut.

As for the NFL rule, expect legal challenges. A lot of them.

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annacreech
24 days ago
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Interesting analysis and some points I had not heard before.
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annacreech
26 days ago
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satadru
28 days ago
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Also, for GDPR purposes, I live in France now.
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Lythimus
30 days ago
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another God Damn Privacy Report.
alt_text_at_your_service
30 days ago
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By clicking anywhere, scrolling, or closing this notification, you agree to be legally bound by the witch Sycorax within a cloven pine.
zippy72
24 days ago
But Sycorax Rock!
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when you need to go from the bridge to a casual weddingfrom...

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when you need to go from the bridge to a casual wedding

from eShakti, thank you Laurel!

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annacreech
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Contemporary fashion borrowing from a 30 year old TV show's idea of future fashion.
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More on Library Workers: What path is your position on?

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Faculty Member helping a Student in the Stacks, 1948 flickr photo by lizkentleon shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC) license

I am hiring a new circulation manager for my library. It’s a staff position. It will be posted any day and I know I will get lots of application that will reflect a wide array of library job seekers. Some will have lots and lots of circulation and tech processing experience, having worked for years in different libraries, but without an MLIS. Many will be enrolled, completing, or just finished an MLIS program with experience in research and instruction, or digitization projects, but no actual experience in circulation and tech processing. This is a circulation job but they aren’t really qualified for it because it’s a type of library work they’ve never done. (Most librarians are woeful when it comes to circulation.)

As I prepare to sift through the applications, it’s hard not to think about when I applied for this position 13 years ago. Everything was different here. We had more staff, no ILS, and a more traditional focus. I had been a student employee for a year and really loved the work. Applying for the circulation manager position was really my commitment to libraries (and I guess this library in particular – I’m still here). Less than a year after I was hired, the library director Dan Krummes pulled me aside and asked me what my career plans were. What did he mean? He bluntly said if I wanted to stick around this library for more than a couple years in that position I should go get my MLIS. Otherwise I should take some time to figure out what I want to do long term and work towards that. I applied to library school the next week.

When I was getting ready to graduate on and started applying for jobs, they had a librarian position here at my library ready for me. After a couple interviews elsewhere, they hired me on a temporary emergency appointment. (I’ve since applied for this job two other times.) The reason they were able to do that was because Dan made sure there was an unfilled librarian position that could be filled. When the offer was presented to me, it was clear that he saw me as the future of the library and wanted me to stick around. He had a similar history, starting here as a student employee, getting his MLIS, getting hired as a librarian, and then eventually becoming director.

When I was hired as a librarian, not only did I recognize I was following Dan’s path but also that I might be the last of a kind. That because it’s exceptionally rare for people here at this campus to be hired into the librarian series from a staff position without getting librarian experience elsewhere first. (When I made the leap, I definitely felt iced out by some of my colleagues who were staff and couldn’t make the same leap. I still feel residual guilt from the situation.) There are many people in library staff positions with their MLIS degrees doing good work, but for a variety of reasons it almost never happens that they then get hired as a librarian. In my library, this circulation manager position is kind of terminal for now based on our budget and organizational needs. I hope that will change some day and we can have more staff and more opportunities to grow, but right now I know what the budget will support. I make sure when I hire people that they know this is a job that will help build skills and provide a stable working environment, but it most likely won’t be a stepping stone to being a librarian on campus at this point in time.

So when people apply to these staff positions, trying to get their foot in the door for a librarian position – they are getting a foot in the door, just not the door they’d like. And as I’ve mentioned several times, all library work is important. So it’s not that we should value one over the other, but we need to acknowledge that this kind of how things are so that everybody is on the same page. Not everybody who earns an MLIS wants to be a librarian and all of the “rights and responsibilities” that come with that classification. One previous circulation manager here dropped out of library school when they decided that being a librarian was just too many meetings and committee work, and they’d prefer to move up the staff ranks and fix things. They weren’t really wrong.

Now in addition for us to be honest about the barriers and paths of different job ranks, we also need to think about how people can grow as professionals in whatever job. So if that is similar to the discussion Dan had with me where he asked my longterm plans, that’s not a bad thing. People don’t need to all aiming to be the director or the university librarian, but helping workers grow and thrive requires conversations about goals and wants. This will help them do their job better and be in a good position to get another job when they feel the time to do so (or the need arises). Fostering an atmosphere for honest discussions like that will hopefully minimize fractures and resentment, and help everybody feel valued in the organization.

The post More on Library Workers: What path is your position on? appeared first on Library Attack!.

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annacreech
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More on library worker solidarity: Librarians need to make amends.

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Two young children push a dolls carriage and carry signs in support of their parents’ strike. Their signs read “Strike!” and “I Need a Healthy Diet!” flickr photo by Kheel Center, Cornell University Library shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

Since I last wrote about library worker solidarity last month, something has really been weighing on my mind about ways to actually achieve worker solidarity in libraries. I’ve asked other union librarians about this, and the lack of answers is kind of telling. When librarians organize and unionize- just like every other union – the focus is on their situation. Eventually, they might look to other librarians but it’s still the profession sticking to its class. But what about other workers and their unions, particularly those in our libraries? The strike this week across the UC system put this into focus again for me, as many aspects of campus and library services were disrupted despite efforts to minimize its effects. When we were told there would be no mail pickup, or when I had people cancel meetings, I rolled with it (and though good on them).

Librarians – you need to look at your whole organization.

And then the obvious…. Librarians – we need to do better in supporting our colleagues across the organization in their struggles for an equitable workplace.

This seems pretty obvious, but I think we as professionals (and often academics) have behaved in a way that puts us apart from other kinds of library workers that has been quite divisive and damaging.

The classic example is how librarians talk about deprofessionalization. We’re not staff, we’re professionals. Which makes many rightly bristle – aren’t all of our colleagues professional? Just because a library’s administration created a position that probably should have been classed a librarian but wasn’t, you still need to support the people in that position. It’s not their fault the job that was open doesn’t have the same rights, responsibilities and privileges that a librarian would have. One way to do that is to work to get them those rights and support them in that way.

At a time when my union is bargaining for a new contract, it’s made me wonder how can we meaningfully support our colleagues in other unions achieve more equitable contracts and working conditions? The quick answer is to show up and support them when they strike.

The long answer is that librarians need to eat crow and apologize for past slights and insults. We need to begin with reflection and self education. Recognize the importance and dignity of all work, and embody that belief. Libraries are complex systems and operations that need lots of different kind of workers to function. When I hear librarians laughingly plead ignorance about bib records because why should they actually need to worry about them, it’s embarrassing and offensive. (And also reflects the deprofessionalization of tech services…) So think about what you are going to say and be careful with how you say it. I know for a profession of people who tend to be driven by words, we can often be very pedantic and precise with our own, but also carelessly punch down. So much that I think most people don’t think they’re going to do it.

I will probably have more to say about this in the future, but I just had to get this out today.

The post More on library worker solidarity: Librarians need to make amends. appeared first on Library Attack!.

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annacreech
37 days ago
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