GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network, today announced it will honor NBA player Jason Collins with the Courage Award at the GLSEN Respect Awards – New York on Monday, May 20.
“We are incredibly proud to honor Jason Collins with our Courage Award,” said Dr. Eliza Byard, GLSEN’s Executive Director. “His decision to come out is a game-changer for sports and will have a profound impact on the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth, particularly those who participate in or want to participate in athletics. Jason’s actions also send another clear message to young people that sexual orientation can no longer be the standard to unfairly judge an athlete’s ability or potential. Joining the ranks of trailblazers like Martina Navratilova, Greg Louganis, Wade Davis and Brittney Griner, we have witnessed another obstacle overcome in sports.”
Jason Collins will receive the Courage Award for his historic decision to come out as gay, becoming the first active out athlete in the NBA, MLB, NHL or NFL. By coming out, Collins has broken monumental barriers for and raised the hopes of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) student athletes in K-12 schools.
Collins came out as gay in the cover story of the May 6 issue of Sports Illustrated. Fellow NBA players and others in the league rallied in support of his decision, including NBA commissioner David Stern.
“Throughout his career, Jason has demonstrated a strength and determination that is truly admirable in professional sports,” said Stern. “His courage upon coming out, however, is an even more powerful statement and has already inspired others in sports at all levels. We are proud of our partnership with GLSEN and are delighted that Jason is receiving their Courage Award.”
Jason Collins was originally selected in the 2001 NBA Draft by the Houston Rockets. Collins later went on to play for the New Jersey Nets, Memphis Grizzlies, Minnesota Timberwolves, Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics and Washington Wizards.
The NBA has a long-standing history of affirming LGBT issues within its three professional sports leagues and among its fan base, including its close partnership with GLSEN. The NBA joined GLSEN’s award-winning ThinkB4YouSpeak Ad Council campaign, featuring NBA players Grant Hill, Jared Dudley, Steve Nash and Brook Lopez. The NBA, WNBA and many of their players have supported Changing the Game: The GLSEN Sports Project’s mission to assist K-12 schools in creating and maintaining an athletic and physical education climate that is based on the core principals of respect, safety and equal access for all, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression. GLSEN also honored the NBA in 2012 with its Commitment to Diversity & Inclusion Award.
Jason Collins completes the full line-up at the GLSEN Respect Awards in New York and will be honored alongside Commitment to Diversity & Inclusion Award recipient JP Morgan & Chase Co.; Inspiration Award recipient USA Network’s Characters Unite campaign; Hero Award recipient LZ Granderson; 2013 Gay-Straight Alliance of the Year recipient Governor Wallace Rider Farrington High School; and 2013 Educator of the Year elementary school counselor Matthew Beck.
The Respect Awards, held annually in New York and Los Angeles, showcase the work of corporations, individuals, students and educators who have made a significant difference in the areas of diversity, inclusion and the safe schools movement, and who serve as exemplary role models.