BURNABY (NEWS1130) – How widespread is homophobia in sport?

Three athletes who addressed a crowd at a Burnaby high school Thursday night believe the situation is for gay sports figures is much better than it was ten years ago.

But homophobia is still an issue, which is why the organization You Can Play hosted the discussion.

Scott Heggart, who played hockey in high school, says a lot of myths prevail about having a gay athlete in the locker room.

“You hear ‘Oh, you know guys aren’t going to want to change around you. They’re not going to want to shower with you around.’ And really what it comes down to is, it’s a locker room with your team. Your team is your family. When you’re playing, the last thing on your mind is anything sexual.”

He believes the NHL will soon see its first player go public about being gay. Rumours are rife that someone in the NFL is about to do just that.

Moderating the forum was BC Lions wide receiver Marco Iannuzzi. He’s straight, but wants to change locker-room culture to eliminate homophobic slurs.

“Slurs based on race and religion were both dealt with. And now we’re at a point where we just need to crack down on anti-gay slurs. I’ll be in the locker room and if I hear it, I’ll bring it up.”

You Can Play is an organization that aims to ensure equality for all athletes, no matter what their orientation is.

It was launched by Patrick Burke, a son of former Toronto Maple Leafs manager Brian Burke.  Brendan Burke, Patrick’s brother, was a gay university men’s hockey team manager who died in a car accident three years ago.