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NFL's Memo On Sexual Orientation: No 'Sexual Gag Gifts,' Leading Questions

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The league sends its 32 teams a memo outlining acceptable conduct as it pertains to sexual orientation.

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Lost in the big news about Jason Collins coming out on Monday was the NFL sending its 32 teams a memo (see below) that stressed the need for respect and acceptance when it comes to sexual orientation. Teams were told in an email from Commissioner Roger Goodell to make the document available to all players and staff. Included are some prohibited behaviors as well as guidelines preventing teams from trying to find out if a prospective player is gay.

The "Excellence in Workplace Conduct: Sexual Orientation" includes the following under harassment:

Harassment can include, but is not limited to:

Unwelcome Contact
Any unwanted touching, pinching, kissing, hugging or deliberate bumping or brushing against another's body.

Jokes, comments and antics
Any jokes, comments or pranks regarding a co-worker's sexual orientation, such as giving someone a sexual gag gift or having entertainment of a sexual nature take place to celebrate an employee's birthday, etc.

Generalizations and Put-Downs
Demeaning or hostile comments regarding one’s sexual orientation, including offensive or degrading words or phrases.

Pornographic or Suggestive Literature and Language
Pornographic of any kind on bulletin boards, lockers, on someone's desk or cubicle, or sent to co-workers via interoffice mail, email or text, fax, social media or voicemail. Any artwork, posters, photos, videos, screen savers, cartoons or written statements of a sexual nature.

Also, in the wake of at least two players at the February NFL Combine being asked leading questions trying to determine their sexual orientation, the league issued these guidelines:

Coaches, General Managers and others responsible for interviewing and hiring draft-eligible players and free agents must not seek information concerning or make personnel decisions based on a player’s sexual orientation. This includes asking questions during an interview that suggest that the player’s sexual orientation will be a factor in the decision to draft or sign him.

Examples: Do you like women or men? How well do you do with the ladies? Do you have a girlfriend?

"Our message is now one of acceptance rather than tolerance. We’ve moved beyond the idea of mere tolerance," league spokesman Greg Aiello told David Kamp of Vanity Fair, echoing what Goodell said a week earlier. The memo is a good step is establishing a baseline of conduct.

Click on the link below to open the memo (as a PDF):

NFL memo on sexual orientation