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May 07, 2010

Women's college basketball coaches refuse to show film on homophobia in women's college basketball

It is an open secret that when some coaches recruit top girls high school basketball players, they play on parental fears about homosexuality by assuring them that if their daughter plays for their team, she won't find herself in close quarters with a bunch of lesbians. The most infamous, not only for her recruiting tactics but also for cutting off young women who she thought were gay, was Rene Portland, former coach at Penn State.

When this happened to star player Jennifer Harris, she fought back, bringing a suit in which she was represented by NCLR. The lawsuit (which was eventually settled, shortly after which Portland resigned) in turn inspired a terrific new documentary - Training Rules - now making the rounds of film festivals. After years of denial, the Women's Basketball Coaches Association had finally begun discussing the issue. But...not too much.  The WBCA refused to show Training Rules at its annual meeting this year, saying that the problem described in the film had been solved because Portland was no longer coaching.

At her LGBT Sport Blog, Pat Griffin, a former college professor who recommended that WBCA include the film in its conference, quotes the head of that organization as telling her that "she believed the film would be controversial and that it rehashes a situation that has been resolved. As a result, she did not see what was to be gained by showing the film as a part of the convention program."

Meanwhile, the situation festers. And there is only one out lesbian who is a Division 1 coach of women’s basketball – Sherri Murrell of Portland State University



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