By MICHAEL GORMLEY
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.
The league is scheduled to announce its new policy during 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, provide new training sessions and create a centralized complaint system to report any harassment and discrimination.
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 where 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.
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. MLB 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 stated. “Both on the field and away from it, Major League Baseball has a zero-tolerance policy for harassment and discrimination based on sexual orientation.”
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.