Former Major League Baseball player Billy Bean, who has been an advocate for LGBT rights in sports since coming out in 1999, has been named vice chairman of the Ben Cohen StandUp Foundation. The group was started by former pro rugby player Ben Cohen to fight homophobia in sports.

The foundation issued this release:

The Ben Cohen StandUp Foundation announced that former Major League Baseball player Billy Bean has been named vice-chairman of its board. He will focus on helping professional leagues and athletes at all levels commit themselves to the fairness, equality, dignity and respect that defines true sportsmanship.

The Foundation, founded and chaired by rugby World Cup Champion Ben Cohen, MBE, is the world’s first dedicated to anti-bullying and equality in sports.

“We believe it sends a powerful signal to all athletes and fans to see two highly accomplished professional sports stars, one straight and one gay, join forces to advance the acceptance and inclusion reshaping sports today,” said Patrick T. Davis, chief executive officer of StandUp.

Bean played major league baseball from 1987 through 1995. He broke into the major leagues with the Detroit Tigers, and tied a major league record with four hits in his first major league game. He went on to play for the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Diego Padres. He kept his personal life a secret from the public and the sports world, before coming out as gay in 1999.

“I want people to learn from my pain and journey, not repeat it. My dream is to help end this social epidemic called bullying that so many kids are subjected to each and every day in locker rooms and on playing fields,” Bean said. “I believe we are nearing that moment in time when athletes lead the way as role models for fairness once again. I am honored to serve StandUp as vice-chairman to help make that dream a reality.”

“Billy has worked tirelessly to dispel the myths and stereotypes that follow LGBT athletes. We can think of no better way to help create understanding, respect and real sportsmanship than from one major league athlete to another. It is at our core, and Billy will extend our work in professional sports,” said Cohen.