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NHL Announces Hockey Is For Everyone Month

In support of their longstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion in hockey, the National Hockey League, the League’s Member Clubs and the National Hockey League Players’ Association (NHLPA) will spotlight a variety of community-related initiatives for Hockey Is For Everyone™ month. Every day throughout February, Hockey Is For Everyone activities will focus awareness on such areas as LGBTQ; ethnicity and gender equality; socio-economic status and those with disabilities. The campaign is conducted in partnership with the You Can Play Project — a nonprofit committed to supporting the LGBTQ community and fighting homophobia in sports. The campaign marks the first time the Players’ Association, the League and its Clubs have collaborated to encourage teamwork, inclusiveness and diversity in hockey at all levels daily for an entire calendar month.

“Our Clubs, our players and our fans are committed to welcoming everyone to hockey,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said. “While the NHL family strives for diversity and inclusiveness all year long, February is Hockey Is For Everyone month, which will highlight, on a daily basis, the many ways our sport brings greater attention, heightened awareness and broader opportunities.”

Teams will host Hockey Is For Everyone™ awareness nights honoring and recognizing hockey players of all ages from diverse backgrounds including: sled hockey players, blind players, youth boys and girls players, special needs players, and recent immigrants. Sportsnet’s Hockey Night in Canada game on Feb. 11 (TOR vs BUF, 7 p.m.) and NBCSN’s Wednesday Night Rivalry game on Feb. 22 (WSH vs PHI, 8 p.m.) will be dedicated as Hockey Is For Everyone national broadcast nights. Fans are encouraged to join the conversation and share their stories of how hockey has made a positive impact by using the official hashtag #HockeyIsForEveryone.

This season, NHL Clubs have designated one player to be a You Can Play ambassador, being a leader in the locker room and in the community on diversity, equality, and inclusion. Additionally, select Clubs will designate one home game as a You Can Play night, celebrating members of the local LGBTQ community with ceremonial puck drops, anthem singers, features on hometown heroes, and ‘Pride Tape’ will be used during pregame warm up. For the first time, fans can purchase ‘Pride Tape’ and NHL® team pride shirts on A limited number of ‘Pride Tape’ wrapped sticks will be autographed by current NHL players and made available for auction at

“Players are proud to partner with You Can Play and the NHL on the Hockey is for Everyone campaign this month,” said Mathieu Schneider, NHLPA Special Assistant to the Executive Director. “The initiatives and conversations taking place in February will continue to promote inclusion and diversity in our game and help ensure that hockey truly is for everyone.”

Throughout the month, select Clubs will also host screenings of Soul On Ice: Past, Present, and Future. The film, which debuted last year, tells the stories of the contributions of black hockey players throughout history. NHL Alumni who helped pave the way, today’s stars and future prospects are featured in the film including: Hockey Is For Everyone™ ambassador Willie O’Ree, 2017 NHL All-Star MVP Wayne Simmonds, and 100 Greatest NHL Player Grant Fuhr.

For a daily calendar of initiatives throughout the month of February visit

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You Can Play

The companies of the Anschutz Entertainment Group have been among the earliest advocates of the movement for equal treatment of LGBT athletes and fans in sports.

During 2012 Stanley Cup celebrations, the Los Angeles Kings’ Dustin Brown and Alec Martinez showed their support for You Can Play with a team-sanctioned parade-cam video. Kings players have subsequently appeared on You Can Play’s behalf and the Kings have featured annual You Can Play events in support of building strong allies and LGBT inclusion.

Major League Soccer, an official partner of You Can Play, was co-founded by Phil Anschutz and currently features the only openly gay man in a major American sport, Robbie Rogers.  AEG’s LA Galaxy has actively promoted LGBT equality with Robbie leading the way and former coach Bruce Arena winning awards for his own support.

Two of You Can Play’s most popular videos feature FUN. and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis.  These wouldn’t have happened without the support of AEG Live and the company’s long history of promoting live music by LGBT artists and advocates.

The AEG companies are part of an important growing coalition supporting social change, diversity and inclusion including that of LGBT athletes, musicians and fans.  AEG’s record shows corporate cultures not just of diversity, but of vital vocal advocacy.

Sports and music have always had the power to unite humanity in a shared celebration that doesn’t recognize discrimination.  You Can Play is proud to have friends and partners in equality at the Kings, the Galaxy, the Ontario Reign, AXS, AEG Live and other Anschutz properties.

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Looking Back On An Incredible Year

Happy new year! Before getting into what has made this past year so special, we want to first say thank you to all of the athletes, coaches, and fans who have helped to make 2016 one of the most monumental years for You Can Play yet. Some of those momentous moves include:   

• creating regional boards across North America to put key people in positions to help drive You Can Play initiatives forward,
• leading the way for more leagues to officially partner with You Can Play, such as U.S. Lacrosse and Major League Lacrosse that joined in April,
• partnering with the Canadian Football League to create the first pro league apparel line benefitting an LGBTQ organization 365 days a year,
• consulting with the NWHL on gender policy, a first that could be a blueprint for other leagues to seek consulting on similar policies.

We couldn’t be more proud of the work that our team has been able to perform, and encouraged by the support we have seen from our fans, the players and staff in the leagues we partner with, students and faculty of hundreds of schools, the professionals who make up our boards across each of our regions, our corporate partners who are willing to take a stand for what they believe in, and especially all of our core supporters like you who make this work possible. We can assure you that it’s only going to get better from here with more league partnership initiatives and work that will help to spread our message of respect. 
Exciting times ahead, and we can’t wait to share more soon — if you can play, you can play.

Glenn Witman
Co-founder, You Can Play Team


You Can Play being honored by Toronto Mayor John Tory while he announced June 16 as the official “You Can Play Day” in Toronto.
You Can Play being honored by Toronto Mayor John Tory while he
announced June 16 as the official “You Can Play Day” in Toronto.


2016 Headline Highlights

Looking back on 2016, here are some of the memorable feature stories that helped drive the global discussion of equality in sports forward.

  • You Can Play was featured in USA Today, Sports Illustrated, and CBS Sports after helping U. of Maine basketball show support for the LGBTQ community in a game at Duke in North Carolina.
  • You Can Play’s involvement with the first ever transgender professional hockey player was featured by the New York Times, and again when You Can Play helped to craft the league’s new gender policy. That story was also covered in ESPN and CBC Canada.
  • Yahoo! Sports and Vice Sports covered the You Can Play CFL GreyCup party, the first ever pro-league sponsored LGBTQ playoff party.
  • Olympic speed skater and You Can Play ambassador Anastasia Bucsis was profiled by CBC Canada, and the newest VP of the You Can Play team, Chris Mosier, was named 2016 person of the year by Outsports.
  • The Washington Capitols support of LGBTQ fans with You Can Play t-shirts and marching in the D.C. pride parade was featured by the Washington Post.


You Can Play Teammate Spotlight:
David Palumbo, Executive Board Member

The You Can Play team is lucky to have a diverse and influential board, such as executive board member David Palumbo in Toronto. David has been a tremendous force in creating and supporting You Can Play initiatives, such as coordinating the Baker & McKenzie You Can Play CFL launch in June, as well as the historic CFL You Can Play Grey Cup Party. 

This fall, David was named as one of the 2016 Leading 100 LGBT Executives by the Financial Times and OUTstanding, ranking him No. 18 globally for his numerous efforts to achieve positive change inside and outside the workplace. Honorees are selected based on their efforts to promote LGBT inclusion, their recent business achievements and their seniority and influence in their business.

David Palumbo, You Can Play Executive Board Member
From left to right: Clare Hutchinson (CFL),
David Palumbo, Jill Svensson (You Can Play)

Services You Can Play Provides

Education & Resources:

• You Can Play trainings for athletes, coaches, and organizational staff
• Speaking events about diversity and LGBTQ inclusion
• Curriculum development and customized “Playbooks”

Programs & Events:

• You Can Play Nights at professional, collegiate, and community games
• Professional partnership programs, such as the Hi-Five Initiative
• International and regional events, such as Pride parades

Communications & Media:

• You Can Play videos posted on our website and social media
• Crisis communications management
• Media talking points for leagues and partners

Ready to get involved?

There are many ways that you can get involved to help spread the You Can Play message further, such as:

• Share messages of respect on social media by using #YouCanPlay and tagging @YouCanPlayTeam
• Donate or plan a fundraiser or campaign to support You Can Play events and programs
• Host a speaking event, training, or panel
• Represent You Can Play at your Pride event
• Create and share your You Can Play video
• Promote inclusive policies and programs that support

If you are interested in being part of a You Can Play regional board, or seeking information on ways that You Can Play might partner with your team, league, or school, then you can email the team at




For donations:

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You Can Play Supports NWHL in Landmark Gender Policy

The NWHL has been a committed partner of You Can Play and is committed to creating an inclusive and respectful environment for its players, coaches, and fans. We are proud of the NWHL policy for the inclusion of transgender athletes in the league, and believe it to be the most inclusive gender policy in women’s professional sports.

“It comes down to respect,” says Chris Mosier, You Can Play Vice President. “When we respect a player’s identity, name, and pronoun, we are creating a space where athletes can show up as their authentic self, allowing them to be better players, teammates, and leaders.”

You Can Play, along with our partners at NCLR, consulted on the policy.

Read the full story from the New York Times about the NWHL’s policy and You Can Play’s involvement:

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You Can Play Statement Regarding Harrison Browne of the NWHL

The NWHL has been a committed partner and strong advocate for the message that You Can Play seeks to spread. We commend Harrison Browne’s courage and will continue work with the NWHL to help promote an environment within hockey where Harrison and all athletes can thrive based on their ability to play, regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation.

“We are committed to creating and supporting inclusive spaces for trans and gender non-conforming athletes, and we are proud to support Harrison and the NWHL,” says Chris Mosier, You Can Play Vice President. “Because if you can play, you can play.”

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Team USA Athlete and LGBTQ Advocate Chris Mosier Joins the You Can Play Team as Vice President

August 15, 2016 – The You Can Play Project announces today that Chris Mosier will join You Can Play as Vice President of Program Development and Community Relations. Mosier competed for Team USA in the 2016 Duathlon World Championships held in Spain in July and is the first transgender man to qualify for a men’s national team. Mosier has an expansive history as an advocate for LGBTQ rights and support in athletics, and most recently served as Executive Director of GO! Athletes, an LGBTQ sports advocacy organization geared towards college and high school athletes.

In addition to his athletic and advocacy backgrounds, Mosier is featured in Nike’s first-ever ad highlighting a transgender athlete, as part of their #Unlimited campaign. This ad, which premiered last week during Olympic coverage, showcases Mosier’s courage as a trailblazing, inspirational athlete and role model. In June of this year, Mosier became the first transgender athlete to be featured in the ESPN Magazine Body Issue. An accomplished speaker and frequent guest on major television programs, Mosier’s other recent advocacy work includes running, a resource for trans inclusion in athletics at various levels of sport.

“I am proud to be joining a non-profit organization that has positively impacted so many athletes, coaches, and fans,” said Mosier. “You Can Play’s programming works to ensure the safety and inclusion of all in sports, and through its growing number of partnerships and programming, has been a leader in creating safer spaces in sports. The You Can Play mission aligns with my personal drive to providing education and using visibility as a tool to create social change, and I am excited to join the team.”

You Can Play Co-Founder Patrick Burke stated, “Everyone at You Can Play is thrilled to be adding Chris to our team. His credentials are utterly impeccable. He is an elite athlete, an experienced and accomplished advocate, a student of LGBTQ issues, a tremendous public speaker, and, perhaps most important, a wonderful person and friend. It has been a personal dream of mine to hire Chris for several years, and I am overjoyed that it has finally happened. We are especially excited to have Chris expand our work on behalf of the trans community. We look forward to Chris leading the charge on our behalf to ensure sports becomes a welcoming environment for transgender athletes, coaches, and fans.”

Mosier will replace Anna Aagenes in the role, as Anna will be pursuing her MBA at Columbia University this Fall. Anna will remain with You Can Play in an advisory role and we thank her for all of her hard work and dedication in growing You Can Play’s reach and impact.

You Can Play Co-Founder Glenn Witman said, “Anna has been an incredible advocate, Vice-President, and friend to all of us at You Can Play. While we are heartbroken to lose her, we are excited to support her in her next steps at Columbia University. Columbia is lucky to have such an amazing, talented, and bright person joining their ranks. We are grateful to Anna for all her hard work, especially on behalf of women and the bisexual community. Anna did a wonderful job expanding our work with women’s leagues, and we will continue to build on her ground work for years to come.”

Additionally, Executive Director Wade Davis will be transitioning to the role of Director, Professional Sports Outreach and will continue his incredible work providing You Can Play trainings and workshops for our professional sports partners. A comprehensive search for an Executive Director replacement is underway.

You Can Play Co-Founder Brian Kitts stated, “Wade has served us for several years as Executive Director, and under his leadership You Can Play has become North America’s premier LGBTQ sports organization. Wade has built an organization that we are all incredibly proud of, and we thank him for his hard work. While Wade will be expanding the tremendous amount of advocacy work he does on behalf of women, people of color, and many groups facing injustice, we are excited that Wade will still be working with You Can Play to make professional sports more inclusive for LGBTQ athletes, coaches, and fans. We are optimistic and excited to identify the appropriate candidate for our next Executive Director.”

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NWHL Partners With You Can Play

August 2, 2016 — The National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL) today announced a partnership with You Can Play beginning in the 2016-17 season.

“The league and our players have supported You Can Play since we launched last year and we’re honored to make a formal announcement today,” said NWHL Commissioner Dani Rylan. “The NWHL is committed to promoting LGBT equality and the respect of all of our athletes, fans, coaches, and staff. Alongside the NHL, AHL, and CWHL, the hockey community can proudly say we are the most inclusive professional sport in the world.”

You Can Play is an organization dedicated to ensuring equality, respect, and safety for all athletes, without regard to sexual orientation and/or gender identity. You Can Play seeks to challenge the culture of locker rooms and spectator arenas by focusing only on an athlete’s skills, work ethic, and competitive spirit.
“Our partnership with the NWHL is extremely significant and sends a powerful message to athletes, young women in particular, that hockey is a place of respect and inclusion. The NWHL has already broken barriers to promote women’s equality in sports and will continue to do so as the first US women’s professional sports league to partner with You Can Play. No matter who you are or who you love, the NWHL welcomes you,” stated Anna Aagenes, Vice President of Program Development & Community Relations for You Can Play.

As part of the league’s partnership with You Can Play, the Founding Four NWHL teams will each host a You Can Play Night during a home game where they will debut their team’s You Can Play Video. The NWHL and each NWHL team will actively show support on social media for You Can Play and their mission of ensuring respect and inclusion for everyone, including LGBT athletes, coaches, and fans.

Each team has also designated a You Can Play Ambassador to lead LGBT inclusion efforts throughout the season. Emily Pfalzer will represent the Beauts, Molly Engstrom will represent the Whale, Brittany Ott will represent the Pride, and Madison Packer will represent the Riveters.

“We want fans to know that the NWHL and its teams are committed to showing their public support for the LGBT community. We also want fans to know that the league is being intentional and proactive in educating its players, coaches, and staff on LGBT diversity and inclusion,” explained Jillian Svensson, Vice President of Development & Operations for You Can Play. 

Dates and times for You Can Play Nights will be announced as the season approaches. More informaiton will be available at

About the National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL)
The NWHL is the first professional women’s hockey league in North America to pay its players. The inaugural season began October 11, 2015 with the Founding Four: Boston Pride, Buffalo Beauts, Connecticut Whale, and New York Riveters. The Boston Pride became the first team in NWHL history to raise the Isobel Cup on March 12, 2016.

About You Can Play
In 2012, You Can Play was launched by Patrick Burke of the NHL along with Brian Kitts, a sports marketing and entertainment executive, and Glenn Witman of GForce Sports. Brendan Burke, the brother of Patrick Burke and son of Brian Burke, a longtime NHL executive, made international headlines when he came out as gay in 2009. A few months after he came out, Brendan died in a car accident. Founded in Brendan Burke’s honor, You Can Play’s ongoing mission is to promote respect and LGBT inclusion in sports.

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You Can Play Supports the NBA’s Decision to Move the 2017 All-Star Game from North Carolina

July 21, 2016 – The National Basketball Association (NBA) announced today that it will relocate the 2017 NBA All-Star Game, which was originally scheduled to be held in Charlotte, North Carolina. The move is in response to the North Carolina House Bill 2 (HB2) that was passed earlier this year by the North Carolina General Assembly and signed into law by Governor Pat McCrory. HB2 not only makes it illegal for counties to pass LGBT non-discrimination legislation, it also prohibits transgender individuals from using public restrooms that correspond with their gender identity.  

You Can Play applauds the NBA’s decision and the public commitment to the inclusion of the LGBT community. You Can Play also commends the other groups who continue to fight for LGBT rights, including the City of Charlotte, which passed LGBT non-discrimination measures just one month before the HB2 bill was signed into law. In addition, many of the collegiate athletic programs in North Carolina have expressed their opposition to HB2 including Duke University, led by basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski. 

Sports should be a place where all people, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity and/or gender expression, are safe to be who they are. We look forward to continuing our strong relationship with the NBA and its teams as we work to ensure the safety and inclusion of all in sports, including LGBT players, coaches, and fans.

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Jolly Fish Press to Join Effort with You Can Play in Support of Inclusivity for LGBTQ Athletes

In an effort to help create inclusivity for LGBTQ athletes in all sports, Jolly Fish Press (JFP) has partnered with You Can Play in an unprecedented sale event starting from June 21 through June 30, 2016; in this event, Mia Siegert’s highly-acclaimed debut, Jerkbait, will be placed on sale at a 30% discount. For every copy of the book sold via this event, JFP will contribute $1 to You Can Play’s much-needed cause.

“As an organization co-founded by hockey players and hockey fans, we at You Can Play could not be prouder to partner with Jerkbait. We are grateful for the visibility that the book has given to the topic of LGBT inclusion in sports,” says You Can Play co-founder Glenn Witman.

“Partnering with You Can Play via Mia Siegert’s momentous debut in a joint effort to push for equality,” says JFP publisher Christopher Loke, “is an honor for everyone here at JFP. If there’s any work of fiction this year that brings our attention to the challenges and struggles LGBTQ athletes face in the world of sports, Jerkbait is that book. This event does not only provides every youth, parent, and educator the chance to read Jerkbait, it also give us the opportunity to give back to the LGBTQ community as a company.”

From June 21 through June 30, JFP and You Can Play invite readers to visit the event site online at where readers will be prompted to participate in the sale event. A special promo code will then be delivered to their email inboxes so they may finalize their purchase of the book with the 30% sale price. Readers who purchase Jerkbait via the event will also be receiving a special thank you note and autographed bookplate from the author.

Since its release in May, Jerkbait has been receiving endorsements and stellar reviews from former NFL player Chris Kluwe, former NHL player Patrick O’Sullivan, and Publishers Review to name a few. Barnes & Noble has listed it as one of the twelve most-anticipated indie books of 2016, while Goodreads has named the book as one of the six best books in May.

“Growing up as a gay hockey player,” Witman adds, “I know firsthand how homophobic a locker room can be and how difficult this is for a young person to experience. We need more people to step up and talk about homophobia in sports, which is exactly why books like Jerkbait are so important. Athletes rely on the support of their friends, family, and their teammates, no matter if they are gay or straight. Our hope is that together, LGBT athletes and allies alike, we can make sports venues and locker rooms safe for all athletes rather than places of fear, slurs, and bullying.”

For more information, contact Shelley Jones at

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CFL Launches New You Can Play Apparel Line to Promote and Support LGBTQ Inclusion in Sport

The Canadian Football League (CFL) and You Can Play have launched a joint apparel line today that will bring fans and players together to promote inclusivity and acceptance.

The line of lifestyle headware and apparel is the next step in the relationship between the CFL and You Can Play and highlights the League’s commitment to equality and diversity. It features New Era hats and stylish items from Levelwear, including t-shirts and polos, and is supported by all nine CFL teams and several CFL licensing partners. 25% of the proceeds from the sale of these items will fund You Can Play’s activities and outreach within Canada.

See the apparel on

CFL Commissioner Jeffrey L. Orridge, along with You Can Play Co-Founder Patrick Burke and Kevin Coon, Managing Partner at You Can Play’s pro bono law firm Baker & McKenzie, will be at the Toronto Stock Exchange to open the market and reaffirm their partnership.

Later tonight, a celebration at Bymark in downtown Toronto will follow and signal the coming together of the sport community and LGBTQ leaders to commemorate this partnership. The launch will feature remarks from the Commissioner regarding the CFL’s commitment to creating safe and welcoming spaces for all athletes, staff, and fans to play, work, and cheer. His Worship John Tory, Mayor of Toronto, will be in attendance. The Grey Cup, accompanied by two Mounties of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police will also be present to mark the occasion alongside senior representatives from hosts, Baker & McKenzie.

“We are incredibly excited to share this important opportunity with fans of every CFL team to show their pride,” said CFL Commissioner Jeffrey L. Orridge. “We have a deep commitment to LGBTQ inclusion on the field, in the stands, and in our boardrooms, locker rooms, and front offices. 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.”

“You Can Play is extremely proud to partner with the Canadian Football League in providing a way for teams and fans to show their support for LGBT athletes, coaches and fans,” said Glenn Witman, Co-Founder of You Can Play. “This merchandise will be worn with pride by fans of both the CFL and equality.”

“It’s wonderful to see these two great organizations continue to be united on such an important issue,” said Baker & McKenzie Managing Partner Kevin Coon. “Diversity is in our DNA, and we’re proud to be working together on our common goal of diversity and equality in the workplace.”

In June 2014, the Canadian Football League and the Canadian Football League Players’ Association announced a partnership with the You Can Play Project that provides a confidential and anonymous system through which CFL players, coaches and staff can receive support, training, counseling, or other resources as needed.

Earlier this year, You Can Play held training sessions for CFL coaches at the CFL Combine as well as workshops in locker rooms and front offices for CFL teams. The CFL and You Can Play will be marching in the Toronto Pride Parade on Sunday, July 3rd alongside other athletes and staff of other leagues and sport organizations.