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View Article  Suzie McConnnell-Serio to replace Rene Portland? And what does JoePa think?

The PG's Bob Smizik takes Penn State to task for allowing Portland to ride roughshod over university standards, policies and common decency.

It's not like the Harris incident was the first against Portland. She had a long and documented history on the subject. As far back as 1986, Portland was quoted making an anti-lesbian statement. In such a comparatively unenlightened era, such behavior might be understandable. But to maintain such an attitude over some 20 years speaks to the ignorance of a closed mind -- something that should not be tolerated among leaders at a major university.

And what does the big mac-Daddy of PSU sports himself have to say about the whole thing (he hired Portland back in the day when he was athletic director)?

"She is doing what she wants to do," said Paterno, who hired Portland in 1980 when he was athletic director. "I hired Rene and have always been fond of Rene. I think she has done a great job. If she wants to get out of it, then that is up to her."

Uh huh.  Well, fortunately, he won't be hiring the next coach.  Rumor has it that Pittsburgh's own Suzie McConnell-Serio is at the top of the consideration list.  Now that would be very romantic, but I'd suggest PSU take a moment to ensure that McConnell-Serio "gets" it on LGBTQ issues.  She's on the record as stating that sexual orientation is a "personal choice" and that she'll respect personal choices.  Not exactly a ringing endorsement for affirming lesbian players, but a far cry from the Portland-menace approach.  If McConnell-Serio can keep her attention on the game and the players' behavior related to the game, more power to her. 

But wouldn't it be cool if Penn State hired an openly lesbian coach? 

View Article  Penn State's Rene Portland Resigns

Here's a tidbit of good gay-tidings!

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- Penn State women's basketball coach Rene Portland resigned today, ending a 27-year tenure in which she won 606 games but battled allegations that she discriminated against lesbian players.

Portland resigned last night, the university said in a statement this morning.

Hurrah!  Hurrah!   More later ....



View Article  PG Letter to the Editor on Rene Portland

From today's Sports Mailbag, Harriet L. Schwartz of Squirrel Hill:

Penn State coach Rene Portland is an adult working on a college campus who has created a hostile and intimidating environment for students. As a university educator, she has harassed students, and continues to get away with it. As a longtime educator, I cannot comprehend that a university administration would allow this to continue.

Well put, Harriet.

View Article  PG Sports Guy Jerry Micco Represents Well on Gay Issues

There is nothing earthshattering in the Valentine's Day PG chat transcript featuring Jerry Micco.  He simply makes a few comments about Penn State retaining Rene Portland as their women's basketball coach and former NBA player John Amaechi's coming out.  What's interesting is the opportunity for the rest of us to note that while there is a long way to go, the sports world is not entirely filled with homophobic bigots. 

Sometimes we need to stop and pay attention to these moments, particularly when most of the attention is focused on the stupidity of bigots like former NBA star Tim Hardaway who has recently claimed that he hates gay people. Duly noted Tim.  Thanks for laying your ignorance right out there on the line and getting yourself banished from the NBA All-Star Weekend.  Now if the NBA were to put a little more attention on the bigots who aren't so brazen ...

Back to Micco.  Here's his perspective on Amaechi:

dt: What are your thoughts on Jon Amechi coming out of the closet?

Jerry Micco: Combination of courage and the fact that he wants to sell some books. He wasn't a superstar by any stretch, so the book on its merits doesn't garner much interest until Amaechi says publicly he's gay. Then it's covered heavily by all media. That said, I hope the day comes soon when people don't have to hide this type of thing. I know it's probably not going to happen, but you'd like to think people are tolerant enough to accept folks as they are and judge them on how they treat others and how they do their job on the court, field, etc.

The snark about selling books is most likely not unwarranted.  But consider the two standards he lays out ... how they treat others and how they do their job on the court.  How they treat others comes first.  Consider the implications for Pittsburgh's homegrown football thug Joey Porter who recently used gay slurs.  How is that for treatin' people?  In fact, here's an entire list of anti-gay slurs made by professional athletes.  I'm sure quite a few have good Christian mamas who make them chunky soup every weekend, but they don't treat people so good do they?

Micco also express incredulity over Penn State's retention of Rene Portland:

Ralph: Why does Rene Portland still have a job at Penn State?

Jerry Micco: I'm not sure, Ralph. I really can't answer that question because it mystifies me, too. And it's not like there aren't likely candidates out there that would be great for that job (read: Suzie McConnell Serio), so PSU would not have a tough time filling the post. I'm stunned with all that's surrounded Portland that the University just doesn't cut its ties. Again, rather mystifying to me.

There may be great replacements, but Portland is still a winner.  So why toss her out just for being a homophobe and violating University policy when you can't guarantee a winning replacement?  Its not like Portland offended the base or anything. 

FYI, Suzie McConnell Serio is not exactly rah-rah lesbian material herself.  She's on the record as defining sexual orientation as a "choice" but acknowledging that her player's personal lives are personal.

I suppose that's progress.  It will be nice when more heterosexuals can lay off the uneasy little jabs when discussing homosexuality -- we get that you aren't gay and we certainly get that you aren't comfortable discussing it.  Let's play ball.

View Article  Gene Collier on gays in sports

In today's Post-Gazette, the inimitable Gene Collier takes a shot at figuring at the implication of Penn State's homoconnection to basketball.  Actually, he contrasts the settlement of Jennifer Harris' lawsuit citing PSU coach Rene Portland's homobigotry with the coming out of former PSU bball player John Amaechi.

Let me summarize  - the fact that Amaechi is a gay basketball player should not be a bigger story than the fact the Rene Portland won't let lesbian basketball players on her team. 

"There's this huge assumption that all women athletes are lesbian, while the exact opposite is true of men -- that, if you're an athlete, you couldn't possibly be gay," Heather Barber was saying on the phone yesterday from the University of New Hampshire. "The assumptions are dramatically different, but the way they play out may not be."

Heather studies these things.  That's good to know because I cannot begin to fathom the impact of homophobia in the athletic realm. 

So Jennifer Harris settled and got her little lump settlement.  Rene got a slap on the hand. 

What have the rest of us gained from this sordid little situation? 

View Article  Black AIDS Day, Rene Portland, Snickers and is Prince phallic?

Still not feeling up to par so very light blogging of late.  Here's a few tidbits that I may explore later:

Today (Weds) is the seventh annual National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day.  See Tony Norman's excellent column on this very important topic.

Former Penn State basketball player Jennifer Harris reached a settlement in her discrimination case against Penn State Coach Rene Portland.  Check out Pam's take on the whole thing.  Do we expect things to be different at Penn State or more of the same brazen "I win games so I can do whatever the hell I want" attitude from Coach Portland?  Hmmm ....

Mars company aired what some are calling homophobic commercials during the Superbowl featuring two men accidently kissing after sharing a Snickers bar.  Homo-disgust ensues.  Apparently, the Snickers website featured two other ads with rather violent self-loathing endings and some virulent "ick" factor responses from heterosexual men.  Parody or homophobic?  The Human Rights Campaign called foul.  Mars defended their attempts to reach out to the 18 to 24 year old demographic. 

Speaking of foul, others are criticizing Prince for his phallic imagery during the Superbowl halftime show.  We saw the show and both sniggered at the imagery which appears to be unintentional or at least ironic. But, heck, I still think Justin Timberlake got off easy for ripping off Janet Jackson's clothing simply because he was the innocent white guy duped by the black vixen. 

View Article  Anti-Rene Portland sentiment flares in Michigan

According to an online edition of Michigan's LGBTQ newsletter, a group of 300+ straight and gay women wore lavender shirts to the recent University of Michigan/Penn State women's basketball game.

Sunday's protest served as a triumphant moment for gay folks, especially considering the massive turnout. It showed that there are people in the state of Michigan (and nationwide) who will not stand for discrimination. The best part: Some of these people aren't even gay. They're just on our side. Now that, that's a victory.

Personally, I think the writer is hyperinflating the magnitude of the protest.  Penn State won't step up to the plate to handle Portland until 1) Jennifer Harris' case settles very unfavorably, 2) Portland overtly discriminates again or 3) Portland begins to lose.  Given that she just netted her 600th win, those prospects don't look too good.

Nonetheless, its good that the issue hasn't been lost amidst a million other concerns.  Portland is an arrogant nasty bigot.  But the greater shame rests on Penn State for allowing her to get away with it.

View Article  Rene Portland Lawsuit Expands After Coach Denigrates Player

From 365gay comes the tidbit that lawyers for Jennifer Harris, the former player suing Penn State coach Rene Portland for harassment and discrimination, have expanded the scope of the lawsuit.  This move comes after Portland made public statements degrading Harris and dismissing her athletic accomplishments. 

?We're not saying Rene does not have a right to defend herself. Of course she does,? said Harris' attorney, Karen Doering, of the National Center for Lesbian Rights. ?But the law does not permit her to make defamatory statements, which is what she has done by claiming that Jennifer was unable to make contributions to the team.?

The Tribune Review reports that the NCLR has also filed a formal complaint with Penn State's Affirmative Action Office.

"Graham Spanier is the one who said, if she is found to have violated the discrimination policy again, and this is defamation as opposed to harassment, she would be in violation of the school's policy," Doering said. "So, we will see if he does anything."

Of course he won't do anything.  He didn't really mean he would fire the winningest women's coach ever at PSU.  He meant that he would slap her on the other wrist after checking to make sure she didn't violate the real discrimination policy (aka other minority protected classes). 

If Portland were to be fired, she could probably have a nice second career as a housemother for the Duke Lacrosse team. 


View Article  Rene Portland - Future Pennsylvania Legislator?

She just can't keep her mouth shut.  No matter that Penn State found her guilty of discimination on the basis of sexual orientation.  No matter that she got off with a little slap on the wrist. No matter that she still faces a huge lawsuit. 

Rene Portland continues to trumpet her innocence and has now officially attempted to retaliate against Jennifer Harris.  On Thursday, she issued a written statement disparaging Harris' contribution to the Lady Lions team. 

Harris lawyers point out that Portland had publicly lauded Harris' performance in 2004 and 2005.  They also state that the team statistics attest to Harris' contributions. 

Penn State has stated that if Portland violated the University's nondiscrimination policy again, she will be fired.  Harris' lawyers have filed a formal complaint with the University over the retaliation attempt. 

'Although coach Portland has a right to defend herself against Jennifer's allegations, the law and Penn State policy do not permit retaliation by making false and disparaging allegations,' Doering said.

Karen Doering is  the senior counsel for the National Center for Lesbian Rights.

Will PSU take action?  Of course not.  I'm sure they will split hairs over what constitutes retaliation, adding fuel to Portland's slow but inevitable self-immolation. 

Don't worry Rene.  This is Pennsylvania so when you finally get yourself fired, you can get into politics and bring your homo-bigotry home to roost in the state legislature.

View Article  Rene Portland Article in PG -- No Letters?

It has been one week since the Post-Gazette article on the Rene Portland debacle ran (Penn State's 'Mommy Coach' a bigot?)

Given that women's hoops are fairly popular around here, I expected  ... well, something!  Between the lesbians, the parents of high school players, the Pitt b-ball fans, and those who actively support the criminalization of homosexuality, surely someone mustered enough umbrage to pick up a pen.

Only one person has done so and his name is Bill Earley of Merion Station, PA.  I have no idea where Merion Station is located, but it sounds like at least one resident has his head screwed on the right way.

Bill writes:

Her boorish behavior has grown bolder because university leadership offers no consequences for her actions. Nothing except another verbal warning and a note in her file.

Thanks for hitting the nail on the head, Bill.  Portland gets away with discrimination because Penn State lets her. 

I wonder if the local b-ball parents realize that remaining silent on this issue sends the right message to their daughters.

Who on earth would let their kid go play for this homo-bigot?  Only another homo-bigot, I'd assume.  And God knows we have plenty of those here in Pgh.

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