'Lesbian' Not a Dirty Word, Activists Insist

By Susan Jones | July 7, 2008 | 8:05 PM EDT

(CNSNews.com) - A homosexual advocacy group is offended by the notion that you can be a "heterosexual" in the MLB, NFL and NHL, but you can't be a "lesbian."

In a letter to Major League Baseball, the National Football League and the National Hockey League, the Human Rights Campaign complained about certain words being banned on personalized team jerseys that fans order online.

Words deemed "inappropriate, derogatory, or profane" are refused. The HRC said it conducted its own search to see what the sports leagues consider dirty words, and "lesbian" was one of them. As of Thursday, however, "gay" is okay. (Several current or former NFL players have the surname "Gay.")

"We're writing today to respectfully remind you that 'lesbian' is not a dirty word," HRC Vice President Winnie Stachelberg said in the March 3 letter.

A spokesperson for the NFL has been quoted as saying that sports jerseys aren't designed to make political statements, and that's why words such as "lesbian" are banned. Also banned, according to press reports -- Jesus Christ, Jack the Ripper, and more than a thousand other words or phrases.

In her letter to the sports leagues, Stachelberg said, "A fan's sexual orientation isn't his or her political statement, it's their identity. Much like a name or a nickname, it's part of who they are."

Stachelberg also noted that the words "Republican" and "Democrat" are allowed.

"We recognize that it would be nearly impossible for your leagues to police every word allowed on jerseys. That's why we're urging you to come up with a short list of truly obscene words and ditch the words that your software blocks that simply refer to a fan's identity.

"There are serious controversies plaguing professional sports these days, and the word 'lesbian' shouldn't be one of them," Stachelberg said.

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