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NHL Starts Program to Help Players Understand Gay Issues

Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The National Hockey League has taken what amounts to the strongest acceptance of homosexuality in professional sports by announcing a program Thursday that aims to teach its players that gays should not be discriminated against.

As of now, no player has publicly come out as gay in hockey, football, baseball or basketball.  However, there are rumors that at least one athlete will reveal his sexual orientation in the near future.

The NHL is partnering with the advocacy group You Can Play Project to put together training and counseling for players and teams on gay issues.

Hockey is leading the way, according Patrick Burke, founder of You Can Play, because many players come from different parts of the world where cultures are more accepting of "LGBT issues."

Expecting some backlash from fans who aren't as open to the acceptance of gay rights, the NHL will seek feedback from gay advocacy groups on how to best alleviate their concerns.  Just the same, NHL security will be on heightened alert to detect potential threats.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

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