Protesters blast anti-gay coach at MSU

Chris Azzopardi
By | 2018-01-16T06:09:18+00:00 October 31st, 2017|News|

Around 130 protesters scattered through the Breslin Arena to rally against anti-gay Penn State coach Rene Portland as her team played against Michigan State University on Feb. 1.
“I thought it was good to go out and make a statement and … show that we’re joined together and especially that we didn’t forget,” said lesbian protester Cole Warren, 25. “Just because time has passed doesn’t mean the homophobic behavior is any more acceptable.”
On Monday, former PSU women’s basketball player Jennifer E. Harris settled the discrimination case against PSU and Portland. Harris filed the lawsuit after the coach dismissed her from the team because of her perceived sexual orientation, which sparked controversy among the LGBT community and led to nationwide protests. A PSU internal review later found Portland created a “hostile, intimidating, and offensive environment,” according to the National Center for Lesbian Rights. The terms of the settlement agreement are confidential.
Portland used to have a “no drinking, no drugs, no lesbians” policy, according to several former players. In 1991, when PSU revised its nondiscrimination policy, Portland openly expressed her anti-gay views to the team.
At last week’s protest, numerous MSU students and other protesters, known as the Lavender Menace, wore lavender colored shirts in support of lesbian athletes. There was no retaliation from Portland, Warren said.
“She’s pretty much just focused on the game and probably tries to shut it out,” she said.
A similar protest, which drew nearly 300 protesters, took place at Crisler Arena in Ann Arbor last month when the University of Michigan defeated PSU. Though protesters at the MSU game were not stationed in central areas, Penny Gardner, protester organizer, still thinks they got their point across.
“It was successful,” Gardner said. “Successful by the number of T-shirts visible to everyone, by the collaboration between the community and the students (and) by the questions asked by (non-protesters).”

About the Author:

Chris Azzopardi
As editor of Q Syndicate, the international LGBTQ wire service, Chris Azzopardi has interviewed a multitude of superstars, including Meryl Streep, Mariah Carey and Beyoncé. Reach him via his website at http://www.chris-azzopardi.com and on Twitter (@chrisazzopardi).