An openly gay University of Minnesota golf coach is considering a discrimination lawsuit after she wasn't allowed to do her job, suggesting that homophobia can be a problem at secular universities, not just religious ones.
According to the Minnesota Daily, Katie Brenny was hired as the University's associate women's head golf coach at the beginning of the season, but left in October. During her short employment, she was mysteriously "disallowed from speaking to players about golf, traveling with the team or recruiting off-campus." Says her lawyer Donald Mark Jr., "It appears to us that there was discrimination occurring, and that seems to be the only logical explanation" for why Brenny wasn't allowed to coach. When asked if this discrimination resulted from the Minnesota golf director learning that Brenny was gay, Mark said, "I think that's accurate."
No suit has been filed yet, and the University's general counsel says the school hopes to avoid one. He also says "we do not believe the University's director of golf engaged in any unlawful actions" (the Minnesota Human Rights Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation). However, the case is reminiscent of Belmont University's alleged firing of gay soccer coach Lisa Howe. Belmont calls itself a "Christian university," and according to the Tennessean's Bob Smietana, anti-gay discrimination is par for the course at such schools: "Christian schools often require faculty and staff to refrain from sex outside of marriage [...] Gay relationships are often specifically banned." But if it's true that the University of Minnesota sidelined Brenny for being gay, that would be a reminder that homophobia's far from just a Southern, Christian problem.