Charlotte, Raleigh hockey teams support gay athletes

You Can Play project seeks equality and respect in sports

Charlotte Checkers are featured on the You Can Play Project website.

Charlotte Checkers are featured on the You Can Play Project website.

CHARLOTTE, N.C.— Hockey teams in North Carolina are standing up for equality and respect in professional sports this month with the release of two videos supporting the You Can Play Project. Based in Denver, the You Can Play is a non-profit meant to unite athletes and sports fans alike in a movement to eliminate discrimination against LGBT athletes.

The Carolina Hurricanes, based in Raleigh, showcased players Tuomo Ruutu, Kevin Westgarth, Tim Brent and Tim Gleason in their video.

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The Charlotte Checkers’ video, featured on the You Can Play homepage on Wednesday, featured players Zac Dulpe, Justin Krueger, Rasmus Rissanen and Brent Sutter, as well as team owner Michael Kahn, COO Tera Black, and several fans.

Duke University published their You Can Play video in August 2012, and have shown it at student and parent orientations since.

“Teamwork and excellence extend far beyond sexual orientation,” Duke athletic director Kevin White says in the video.

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An assistant athletic director for the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill told The News & Observer that the athletic department there is planning to produce a You Can Play video this summer.

You Can Play says they are “dedicated to ensuring equality, respect and safety for all athletes, without regard to sexual orientation.”

The group was founded by Patrick Burke, whose younger brother, Brendan, was an openly gay student athlete. He died in a car crash in 2010. The brothers’ father was a former general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs and the U.S. Olympic hockey team.

“Brendan taught me what the locker room can be like for young LGBT athletes, then showed me the difference one person can make by standing up for what is right,” Patrick Burke says on the organization’s website.

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