Ex-Football Player Comes Under Fire for Gay Conversion Therapy Tweets
Supporters of New Jersey's ban on gay conversion therapy are up in arms over anti-gay comments made by newly installed Giants Director of Player Development David Tyree. Among them is the bill's sponsor, Assemblyman Timothy Eustace, who said that it was a shame the Giants' new hire had such misguided opinions.
"It's unfortunate somebody who is in a position of authority over athletes has these thoughts," Eustace told NJ.com Wednesday. "Sports is moving forward on gay issues. But to have an opinion like Tyree's -- where he says gay people are somehow not right mentally and need treatment -- is unfortunate not only for him, but the Giants organization."
Eustace intimated that, coming on the heels of Michael Sam -- the first openly gay player drafted for the NFL -- heading to training camp this week, it was particularly troubling.
"The NFL may see another player come out in the near future, but with the hiring of David Tyree I do not believe he will be playing for the Giants," echoed Hudson Taylor, founder and executive director of Athlete Ally.
The Giants issued a statement on Tuesday in which the team said Tyree "was expressing his personal view, and that is not the view of the Giants organization."
On July 22, NJ.com reported on a series of Tweets Tyree posted in 2011, in which he wrote that there was "no scientific data to support the claim of being born gay" and that he'd "met former homosexuals."
"His misinformed and dangerous statements put his judgment into question, on and off the field," Fred Sainz, a spokesman for the leading gay advocacy group Human Rights Campaign, told NJ.com. "Why would the New York Giants organization want a guy like this working for them?"
Tyree's "pray the gay away" views aren't accepted by the medical community, and were outlawed in New Jersey minors when Gov. Chris Christie signed legislation on August 19, 2013. The Catholic governor doesn't support the controversial therapy.
"The American Psychological Association has found that efforts to change sexual orientation can pose critical health risks including, but not limited to, depression, substance abuse, social withdrawal, decreased self-esteem and suicidal thoughts," Christie wrote in his signing statement for that legislation. "I believe that exposing children to these health risks without clear evidence of benefits that outweigh these serious risks is not appropriate."
Garden State Equality's Executive Director Troy Stevenson praised Christie for his support, saying that the bill would "protect young people from being abused by those they should trust the most, their parents and their doctors."
Stevenson hoped it would "lead to a further evolution" for Christie on same sex marriage, which the governor opposes.
"It is our truest hope that the governor will realize... the best way to ensure our LGBT youth are protected from the abuse of being ostracized, is to provide them with equality," he said.
Winnie McCroy is the Women on the EDGE Editor, HIV/Health Editor, and Assistant Entertainment Editor for EDGE Media Network, handling all women’s news, HIV health stories and theater reviews throughout the U.S. She has contributed to other publications, including The Village Voice, Gay City News, Chelsea Now and The Advocate, and lives in Brooklyn, New York, where she writes about local restaurants in her food blog, http://brooklyniscookin.blogspot.com/