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August 26, 2012; Source: Examiner

The National Football League (NFL) season will get underway tomorrow night, but one team—the San Francisco 49ers—has already been making headlines beyond the playing field. Thanks to the work of Sean Chapin, the 49ers have become the first NFL franchise to support queer and bullied youth outright. Chapin had earlier convinced Major League Baseball’s San Francisco Giants to make a video for the It Gets Better project, which seeks to stem lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth suicides by showing young people “the levels of happiness, potential, and positivity their lives will reach—if they can just get through their teen years.” The popular initiative offers video testaments from LGBTQ individuals who have survived to see better times and from straight allies who care for children and youth who are subject to torment and marginalization by their peers and others. The 49ers video features defensive tackles Ricky Jean Francois and Isaac Sopoaga, safety Donte Whitner, and linebacker Ahmad Brooks.

“Something you should never experience is being bullied, intimidated, or being pressured into being someone or something you are not,” Brooks says in the spot, which you can see here:

The 49ers join other professional and amateur teams and athletes who have bravely spoken up against bullying and given hope to young people who might have otherwise taken their lives, including the Oakland Athletics and the Pittsburgh Pirates in baseball and the D.C. United soccer team. University athletes, such as those from the University of North Carolina and New York University, have also created similar videos. 

In addition to the 49ers, Chapin also asked another NFL team, the Denver Broncos, to join the project with a petition that drew 8,000 signatures but the team refused. The videos created by the 49ers and others will no doubt make a difference in many young lives. Now if only other professional teams would follow suit and let kids know that it does get better. – Erwin de Leon