Story at a glance
- NASCAR driver Hailie Deegan is the first female driver to have won races in the West Series.
- She uses Twitch, a video livestreaming service, to connect with fans both on and off the race course.
- After Deegan used an ableist slur on a stream, officials required her to take sensitivity training before participating in the 2021 season.
As a Gen-Z teenager, Hailie Deegan is a digital native. But as one of the first female drivers to win NASCAR races in the West Series, she’s also got a lot of eyes on her.
So when she dropped an ableist slur during her first Twitch stream Sunday from a race on her personal account, the consequences came swiftly.
NASCAR officials announced that Deegan will be required to take sensitivity training ahead of her first season in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series after using a slur against people with intellectual disabilities.
Deegan issued an apology on Twitter.
Earlier tonight I used an insensitive word during an online race being broadcast on twitch. It was inappropriate slang and a stupid thing to do. I apologize to everyone who was offended by it. There's no excuse for it, and I know I have to do better for my sponsors and my fans.— Hailie Deegan (@HailieDeegan) January 11, 2021
This isn't the first nonracing controversy surrounding the 19-year-old driver. Just before her debut with the team last October at Kansas Speedway, she was criticized for calling COVID-19 "the flu" and a "hoax" in a podcast with her father and NASCAR driver Brian Deegan.
This is something else. pic.twitter.com/BR6YEiLI5G— Hester (@TheHestercution) September 21, 2020
The auto racing circuit, which has been criticized for a lack of diversity in the past, has made strides to promote inclusivity, including banning Confederate flags from events and swift punishment for drivers who break their code of conduct. In April, driver Kyle Larson was indefinitely suspended after using a racial slur on a live stream during an event.
“NASCAR has made diversity and inclusion a priority and will not tolerate the type of language used by Kyle Larson during Sunday’s iRacing event,” said NASCAR in a statement. “Our Member Conduct Guidelines are clear in this regard, and we will enforce these guidelines to maintain an inclusive environment for our entire industry and fan base.”
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