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As MLB organizations come together to combat bullying of LGBTQ+ youth, the Texas Rangers left a glaring omission in their Spirit Day social media post.
When professional sports organizations stand up for a cause, it’s always important to explain that cause to fans.
October has long been dedicated to breast cancer awareness, but in 2021, the NFL rolled out its “Crucial Catch” initiative infield. When coaches and personnel across the league sported multi-colored gear to accommodate all the colors representative of different cancer support groups, announcers explained what “Crucial Catch” was in every broadcast.
So when the MLB came together to support LGBTQ+ youth and take a stand against bullying Oct. 21 for Spirit Day, every team in the league took part. All teams colored their social media avatars purple and posted messages of support for LGBTQ+ kids everywhere.
That is, except for the Texas Rangers.
In a sardonic take on “spot the difference”, The Athletic’s Levi Weaver points out that the Rangers seem to be the only team that glosses over this distinct LGBTQ+ initiative. While every other team endeavors to explain what their Spirit Day initiative is about, the Rangers vaguely take a stand against bullying and support inclusion.
Texas Rangers miss the mark in Spirit Day post for the LGBTQ+ community
Weaver continues, saying how disappointing it is to see the Rangers “find a way to trip on a bar so low that it’s half-buried in the dirt.”
One Rangers fan wonders how long the team will “actively keep marginalized groups on the outside.”
The significance of Spirit Day, which takes place annually on the third Thursday of October, is that LGBTQ+ youth and allies wear the color purple to bring attention to anti-LGBT bullying and harassment. Beyond bullying, LGBTQ+ youth experience higher rates of suicide, homelessness
In 2020, CDC data revealed just how disparate the experience is for many young LGBTQ+ people.
“The data show that 43% of transgender youth have been bullied on school property. 29% of transgender youth, 21% of gay and lesbian youth and 22% of bisexual youth have attempted suicide.”
For those who believe that the situation has improved over time, the increased visibility has shown that trans youth are facing even higher rates of bullying.
“In many areas of the data, transgender students are facing more disparities in 2019 than they were in 2017.”
MLB vice president and special assistant to the Commissioner Billy Bean, who is a former Major League outfielder and is openly gay, spoke to how important this initiative was in the baseball world.
“We want every kid that may love baseball, whether they’re LGBTQ youth or not, to feel welcome and safe,” said Bean. “[We want to] let them know that they are a part of the baseball family and we’re going to stand up right beside them.”
While every other team understands the importance of explaining Spirit Day, it’s no surprise that a team whose name is steeped in a history of violence and racism would sidestep this inclusion entirely.
When it comes to LGBTQ+ support, the Rangers are noticeably silent. According to the Dallas Morning News, as of May 2021, the Rangers were “the only team who haven’t celebrated event or scheduled a pride game since 2003.”