Courtney Graham was the assistant coach for the Drake University women’s basketball team until she claims that she was forced to resign because the head coach Jennie Baranczyk learned that she was gay. Now Graham is suing Drake University, alleging that she was forced to quit after weeks of duress, claiming that the school violated Iowa’s anti-discrimination law.
According to the lawsuit, things are pretty cut and dry. The suit states that Graham’s sexuality become public knowledge when she brought her girlfriend to a home game in November 2014. From that time on, the suit states, things were very different between Graham and Coach Baranczyk. In addition to forcing Graham to take a month off from work because “she wasn’t acting like herself,” some other things that happened to Graham.
The lawsuit filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Des Moines claims that Baranczyk sent Graham home multiple times without explanation, excluded her from team meetings and scouting trips, and stripped her of job duties until the only remaining tasks she had were similar to those of an intern. Baranczyk also shared information with other Drake employees and “gossiped” about medication and therapy Graham received for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, according to the lawsuit. The brain disorder can cause inattentiveness and impulsive behavior [source].
The lawsuit states that Baranczyk asked Graham to resign in May 2015, at the end of the school year after Graham brought her girlfriend to a game. Baranczyk continued to text, email, and pressure Graham to resign until Graham finally capitulated and sent a letter of resignation on June 5, 2015.
I’m not saying that Graham doesn’t have a case here, but this smells pretty fishy from a distance. Unfortunately, there is still discrimination of all types in the world, but you’d think that anti-gay discrimination in women’s sports would be nearly extinct at this point in time. It’s a well-known fact that there are a large number of gay female athletes in college and professional athletics, especially in basketball, so the fact that a school or even a coach would fire someone because they’re gay seems crazy to me.
Again, I’m not saying that this is a lawsuit without merit, but according to Drake University’s official response, Graham tried to file a complaint earlier with the Iowa Civil Rights Commission about the same issue. That complaint was dismissed quickly because there was not a “reasonable possibility that further investigation would reveal discrimination occurred.”
We’ll keep up with this story as it develops.