Pepperdine University students and alumni will hold a rally Thursday evening in protest of alleged antigay discrimination on the women’s basketball team.
The rally, which will take place at 5 p.m. Pacific at the Malibu, Calif. campus, is being organized by Brandon White, the brother of Layana White, who filed a lawsuit against the university last year alongside Haley Videckis.
The lesbian basketball players, who had received full scholarships at the private Christian university, say they left the team after enduring repeated harassment due to their sexual orientation.
They allege that their former coach, Ryan Weisenberg, made comments such as, “Lesbianism isn’t tolerated here. Lesbianism is real and it's a big problem in women's basketball,” as Videckis told local TV station KABC. “And I directly remember the date of that meeting because it just stood out to me that someone could use that word in such a derogatory way,” she said.
“I was being targeted, and some of the treatment, I thought, was just completely unfair,” she continued.
“As soon as the coaching staff had suspicions that Hayley and I might be lesbians I started being treated differently,” White added.
In a letter to Outsports, White’s brother said he took time off from his own basketball team to support his sister and organize the protest.
“The reason I am supporting my sister is because she is the first person in our family to ever go to college, and she was planning on going to medical school,” Brandon White wrote. “But now, getting her degree from Pepperdine and her dreams of ever playing Division 1 basketball have been ripped away from her. “
“I left the basketball program at Skagit Valley College in Washington because I can't watch my sister go through this alone. I am straight and I am just as passionate as any gay activist because of what I have seen them to do my sister,” he concluded.
In addition to the comments from Weisenberg, White and Videckis say that another administrator would repeatedly ask them invasive questions, such as whether the two young women sleep together. They also claim school officials did not take action when presented with this information.
They are suing Weisenberg and the university “for violating their civil right to privacy, as well as violations of California education code and Title IX of the federal Education Amendments Act of 1972 — which prohibits sex discrimination in federally funded education programs and activities,” reports the Courthouse News Service.
Pepperdine University, which is an affiliate of the Churches of Christ, released a statement contesting the players' allegations.
“We take allegations of this kind, and they are only allegations, very seriously. We conducted an immediate and thorough investigation and found no evidence to support these claims, and we look forward to demonstrating the truth of the matter in court. The university remains committed to a diverse and inclusive environment,” the statement read.