GLAAD on Friday reached out to the It Gets Better project, the National Football League and the San Francisco 49ers after two 49ers players denied having knowing participated in an "It Gets Better" video produced by the team.
The 49ers were the first football team to shoot an It Gets Better video alone (The Seattle Seahawks participated in one alongside other Seattle pro teams) but after the controversial anti-gay statements made by 49ers cornerback Chris Cullliver, two of the players in that video now say they didn't know it was meant to encourage LGBT victims of bullying.
Two of the players who took part in the video — linebacker Ahmad Brooks and nose tackle Isaac Sopoaga — strangely denied making the video. Then, when shown the video, they said they didn't realize the aim of the production was to fight the bullying of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender teens.
While the players involved did not actually say whether they would have still participated had they understood the aims of the It Gets Better project, the message received was loud and clear, and it was in many ways a worse message than the one sent by Culliver. Brooks and Sopoaga, by making this statement, are sending the message to millions of football fans that they do oppose bullying - unless the victim is gay.
GLAAD reached out to the NFL once the story of Culliver's comments came to light, and we have reached out again to the league and the team about this latest incident. The message sent by these players is not only completely unacceptable, it undoes all the good done by the team making an It Gets Better video in the first place, and action must be taken.
GLAAD has been working with You Can Play and Athlete Ally on a proposal for an LGBT awareness program that we are planning to take to the NFL during the offseason. We look forward to working with all of the parties involved on trying to minimize the damage done to LGBT youth by these statements, and on preventing incidents like this from happening in the future.