Brittney Griner’s new book, In My Skin, reveals her startling experiences of being a gay athlete at baptist based Baylor University. While the themes of the book deal with Griner’s lifetime of struggling against her struggle with being gay and the bullying that resulted, Baylor becomes an interesting target. In fact, one of the major themes raised by Brittney Griner’s book is the reality that Baylor is giving their athletes a double standard.
Though there was much speculation about Brittney Griner’s sexual orientation throughout her college career, she did not publicly come out as gay until after leaving Baylor. What many fans may not know is that Griner had already been involved in gay relationships throughout high school before ever committing to Baylor. On one particular visit with Baylor head coach Kim Mulkey, Griner remembers being given the okay to be herself. “Big Girl, I don’t care what you are. You can be black, white, blue, purple, whatever. As long as you come here and do what you need to do and hoop, I don’t care.”
The problem with that statement by coach Mulkey is that it directly contradicts the policy of Baylor University regarding homosexuality. The Baylor student handbook clearly states:
The University affirms the biblical understanding of sexuality as a gift from God. Christian churches across the ages and around the world have affirmed purity in singleness and fidelity in marriage between a man and a woman as the biblical norm. Temptations to deviate from this norm include both heterosexual sex outside of marriage and homosexual behavior. It is thus expected that Baylor students will not participate in advocacy groups which promote understandings of sexuality that are contrary to biblical teaching.
For coach Mulkey to tell Brittney Griner that she could be “whatever” was misleading at best and possibly even exploitation. Since leaving Baylor, Griner has maintained that she was constantly told to keep her gay relationships “private” and could not “show off” her sexuality. But as homosexuality and gay athletes becomes more and more normative, Christian schools like Baylor will have to face some difficult issues. Primarily, they must either change their student policies or live up to the fact that they are looking the other way on their own rules while exploiting gay athletes like Brittney Griner.
Standout college athletes like Griner are a major source of revenue and recognition for colleges. While discussions continue in courtrooms concerning the possibility of paying athletes more, major universities continue to profit off the success of their students. For a school like Baylor to condemn the practice of homosexuality, but then make an exception for someone like Brittney Griner is truly an unethical practice.
In her book, Brittney Griner is asking for is honesty, integrity, and respect for all people, including gay athletes. It will be interesting to see what impact, if any, this has on major Christian universities like Baylor.
[Image via Huffington Post]