By Cristhian Plasencia/Asst. Sports Director
Women face many stereotypes in sports and in the WNBA, a big stereotype is that the great majority of players are gay. Former high school women’s basketball player challenges this assumption.
“I would say some players turn out to be lesbians, but not all identify themselves as such,” said Shauntrell White, junior nursing student. “Perhaps, it’s because of their [perceived] ‘manly’ appearance. When I played basketball, I didn’t identify myself as a lesbian.”
White said during her freshman year, she started to find women attractive, but at the same time she still saw herself attracted to men.
The Chicago former high school basketball player from Hancock High School said that speaking about her sexuality hindered her chances of earning a sports scholarship by playing basketball.
Similar to White’s struggle in obtaining a scholarship, McDonald’s All-American Jennifer Harris lost her scholarship and got kicked off Penn State’s women’s basketball because of sexual orientation allegations from Head Coach Rene Portland.
Portland’s team policies were straightforward: no drinking, no drugs, and no lesbians.
Harris told the media multiple times that during the recruiting process with Penn State, their head coach made it clear about not permitting lesbians on her roster.
Penn State’s head coach accused Harris during her freshman year about her dating a teammate. Harris denied those accusations. At the end of the season, she was dismissed from the team.
There were some instances where Portland would criticize Pennsylvania’s forward for wearing baggy sweatpants, and suggested her to wear tighter jeans, also told Harris that cornrows should be avoided.
“I believe it’s the fact that while on the court and off, a lot of them do not conform to the normative of what society deems the appropriate look of a straight female,” said Jasmine Thompson, a senior psychology major. “As well as the fact that they are aggressive on the court which is seen as less feminine than a female that is a cheerleader.”
Thompson began softball at the age of nine-years-old. She has seen through the years how boys and even girls from other sports looked at her differently because she played softball as if only boys should be playing in the dirt and getting all muddy.
“It’s the same as softball players. Anytime I said I played softball, they would assume I was a lesbian, even though although I am, but not all of my teammates were lesbians. The majority were straight,” Thompson said.