CFL, You Can Play team up on clothing line promoting LGBTQ inclusion

The CFL is teaming up with You Can Play on a clothing line supporting LGBTQ inclusion in sports.

Hats, T-shirts and other items will be available in the colours of the CFL’s nine teams and feature the You Can Play insignia.

Twenty-five per cent of proceeds will go to You Can Play’s programs in Canada.

You Can Play promotes the safety and inclusion for all participating in sports, including LGBTQ athletes, coaches and fans.

Patrick Burke, the NHL’s director of player safety and co-founder of You Can Play, calls the support from the CFL “really incredible.”

“It’s exciting to find a very visible and very open way for the CFL and their fans to support LGBT inclusion in sports,” said Burke, whose father is Calgary Flames president Brian Burke.

You Can Play was formed in memory of Patrick’s brother Brendan, who died in a 2010 car accident. His death came shortly after he came out publicly, saying he want to help end homophobia in the hockey world.

“I think what we’re seeing now is more players being comfortable, being more aggressive and open in their support for the LGBT community,” Burke said. “We’re seeing momentum build under the idea it’s time to be intentional, it’s time to be aggressive and it’s no longer enough to be neutral on these issues.

“It’s time for us to take a very visible stance.”

Especially, Burke said, after 49 people were killed and another 53 wounded early Sunday at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla., in the worst mass shooting in U.S. history.

“I think it’s proof of the need to be intentional and show up with our support for the LGBT community,” Burke said. “There’s no longer really room to be apathetic on this issue.”

Two years ago, the CFL and CFL Players’ Association partnered with You Can Play to provide confidential and anonymous systems for players, coaches and CFL staff. In March, You Can Play held training sessions for league coaches at the annual combine as well as workshops for CFL teams.

“I’m proud that our strong partnership with You Can Play is reaching this new level, and we’re looking forward to furthering this relationship,” said CFL commissioner Jeffrey Orridge.

Other leagues to partner with You Can Play include the NHL, Major League Soccer and the Canadian Women’s Hockey League.

– CP