PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The NHL and the NHL Players Association today announced a partnership with You Can Play, an organization that “seeks to ensure quality, safety and respect for all athletes without regard for sexual orientation.” You Can Play’s slogan is “Gay Athletes. Straight Allies. Teaming up for respect.”

One of the co-founders of You Can Play is Flyers scout Patrick Burke.

“The NHL sets the standard for professional sports when it comes to LGBT outreach and we are incredibly grateful for their help and support,” Burke said in a press release. “We will work with League and NHLPA officials, teams and players to ensure that we create a more inclusive hockey community at all levels.”

“Our motto is ‘Hockey Is For Everyone,’ and our partnership with You Can Play certifies that position in a clear and unequivocal way,” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said in arelease. “While we believe that our actions in the past have shown our support for the LGBT community, we are delighted to reaffirm through this joint venture with the NHL Players’ Association that the official policy of the NHL is one of inclusion on the ice, in our locker rooms and in the stands.”

“NHL players have supported the You Can Play Project since its inception, which we are pleased to formalize and expand upon with today’s announcement,”  Don Fehr, NHLPA Executive Director said in a release. “The players believe our partnership with the NHL and You Can Play will foster an inclusive hockey environment from the grassroots level to the professional ranks.”

The agreement with You Can Play “includes a significant commitment to education and training for teams, players, media and fans plus the production and broadcast of more public service announcements.  The NHL becomes the first major American professional sports league to officially partner with an LGBT advocacy group on this scale.”

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