Jennifer Harris on the court
On Saturday, October 24th, GLAAD and the Seattle Lesbian & Gay Film Festival brought to you by Three Dollar Bill Cinema are sponsoring a special screening of the film “Training Rules.” The film looks at how anti-LGBT attitudes and actions within women's collegiate sports destroy the lives and dreams of many gifted athletes.
“Training Rules” chronicles women’s basketball coach, Rene Portland and her 27-year tenure at Pennsylvania State University, as well as several players who suffered under her deeply homophobic reign.
During her time as head coach, Portland had three rules: no drinking, no drugs, and no lesbians. Players were routinely threatened, and sometimes stripped of their college scholarships if they identified as lesbian, were suspected of being a lesbian, or even spoke to a lesbian.
In 2003, Jennifer Harris graduated from high school with the distinction of being the most decorated basketball player in her school's history. More than 250 universities recruited her. Following her graduation, she accepted an athletic scholarship from PSU and became a Lady Lion. In March 2005, Harris was suddenly kicked off her beloved basketball team on suspicion she was a lesbian.
The following year, after dealing with bouts of depression and thoughts of suicide, Harris teamed up with the National Center for Lesbian Rights and filed charges against PSU and Coach Portland for discrimination based on sexual orientation, racism and gender stereotyping. Soon, six other talented female athletes stepped forward to validate Harris’ discrimination claim. The film ties together the lives of each of these women through the heart-breaking tale of how Portland and her homophobia destroyed their dreams of playing basketball.
The lawsuit lasted nearly two years and was eventually settled; Portland resigned from her position as Head Coach. Despite losing her chance to play in the WNBA, Harris is given the chance to inspire and motivate other colleges and athletes to stand up against discrimination and homophobia.
Immediately following the film, there will be a GLAAD-sponsored panel aimed at discussing homophobia in sports. Moderated by CR Douglas, panelists include film director Dee Morbacher, Karen Bryant, CEO of the Seattle Storm, and GLAAD President Jarrett Barrios. Come listen and chat about how homophobia impacts athletes, sports and the spirit of competition.
Additionally, Jarrett Barrios will speak about how GLAAD has been helping with the fight to pass Referendum 71 to ensure the rights of same-sex couples stay intact in Washington State.