Antigay Slurs in Sports

A loyal hockey fan inspires a hometown team to check its homophobia at the gate

Abigail Habbert is a big hockey fan. That’s why when the lesbian and her girlfriend were confronted with antigay slurs against opponents at a Hershey Bears game in Hershey, Pa., (about 90 miles west of Philadelphia) she complained to management.

Habbert says even though security was added at the hockey games after her initial complaints – the antigay taunts continued. It inspired her to reach out to GLAAD (Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) to help put an end to it once and for all.

And much to her surprise – it worked.

Both the Hershey Bears and Hershey Entertainment Complex have enacted a zero-tolerance policy against discrimination – similar to the one the New York Yankees have used since last year.

Now, before and after each game, the stadium announces a warning letting fans know that antigay comments will not be tolerated and that those who do engage in hate speech will be asked to leave the premise.

“The Hershey Bears understand that there is no place in sports for antigay attitudes,” says GLAAD, “and should be a model for other teams to follow. We cannot thank Abigail enough for standing up. It was her efforts in speaking to team and stadium officials that led to this victory, and it’s thanks to her that thousand of her fellow Bears fans will be able to enjoy games for years to come, without having to endure a constant onslaught of antigay slurs.”

Habbert told G Philly that while she was excited about the change in attitude by both the management and the fans, she admittedly wasn’t expecting to end up in the spotlight. “I never would have thought this would get so much attention,” she says.