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Editorial: Pro sports and cops get on gay bandwagon

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Activists Rally In Favor Of Same Sex Marriage In Chicago

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Updated: May 16, 2013 6:15AM

The climate for gay and transgendered Americans is changing so fast and furiously, we can hardly keep up.

But two recent developments, changes unimaginable just a year or two ago, mustn’t be missed.

Two bastions known more for machismo than tolerance are starting to crack: male professional sports and the Chicago Police Department.

Locally, the Sun-Times’ Mark Brown reported that the police department is installing two new private bathrooms with showers at its training academy to better accommodate transgender police recruits.

You read that right.

The department’s LGBT liaison told Brown he considered this another step forward in the relationship between the police and the LGBT community. It’s hard to imagine there aren’t many more steps to take, but this is certainly a notable one.

And then we read in the New York Times that the four major professional sports leagues are readying for a highly anticipated announcement that a gay male athlete in one of those leagues may be coming out soon.

That would be a first. A big one.

To prepare, and to augment work that’s been under way for some time, the National Hockey League — which appears to be farthest along of the four leagues — on Thursday announced a major effort to support gay athletes. The NHL has teamed up with the You Can Play Project, an advocacy group, to offer training and other assistance, including helping intercede if players make homophobic comments.

At the same time, the National Football League is working with gay advocacy groups to drum up ideas that might be useful in the NFL, such as ending the practice of jokingly steering “kiss cams” in stadiums to two men and working with rookies to pay attention to LGBT issues.

Another day, another set of firsts.

Major firsts.

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