CHATTANOOGA, Tennessee(WDEF) - As the news of an openly gay NBA player ripples across the sports world, some people are wondering what impact it will have on young students athletes who look up to professional players.
NBA veteran Jason Collins has become the first active professional basketball player to publicly admit he's gay.
"Just allowing yourself to really be happy and be comfortable in your own skin," said Collins while being interviewed by a major television network reporter.
Now that his lifestyle is out of the closet, many people are starting to ask if his admission would inspire gay high school athletes to do the same. For this perspective, WDEF turned to Howard Principal Dr. Paul Smith to see how the school would deal with that potential situation.
"If this inspires a child to come to grips with who he or she is then so be it. It is our job to number one educate children and number two provide opportunities for all children," Dr. Smith said.
The high school principal said if a student athlete publicly comes out about being gay, he won't allow that student to face discrimination or ridicule by fellow students or school staff. If parents have a problem with their child playing in a school sport alongside a gay teammate, Dr. Smith said that parent should learn to respect that students orientation.
"When kids are able to to be honest with themselves and honest with their teammates, classmates and other stake holders then I think we should respect that honesty," said Dr. Smith.
Howard athletic director and football coach Michael Calloway, said he doesn't care if a student athlete is gay. He only wants them to get good grades in school and help their team win games. He also encourages student athletes to be honest with themselves.
"I don't think any of the students would benefit from holding these things in so I say just be yourself. If it has a place in the sports world then let it out and let it be," Calloway said.