In an extremely thorough and thoughtful blog entry at the Huffington Post (seriously, I encourage you to go read the whole thing), Outsports.com co-founder Cyd Zeigler is calling for Ron Brown, assistant football coach at the University of Nebraska, to be fired.
Brown is a Christian, and one who goes well out of his way to publicize his beliefs — particularly the belief that LGBT people are icky and defective. He even went so far as to speak at an Omaha City Council meeting earlier this month, opposing a law that would ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
Now, if that’s all Brown did, we would have no more grounds to get him fired than the Illinois Family Institute did when it went after Hemant. After all, the University of Nebraska’s nondiscrimination policy cuts both ways, which Zeigler freely acknowledges.
But Zeigler lays out a fairly damning case against Brown, contending on the basis of Brown’s own public statements that the coach’s bigoted attitudes aren’t limited to his off-hours. Brown uses his position at the University of Nebraska (a public university, in case that wasn’t clear) to advance his views. Promotional videos for his explicitly Christian proselytizing organization, FreedMen Nebraska, use Cornhusker imagery with abandon or are outright filmed in Memorial Stadium.
In fact, according to Cindy Lange-Kubick of the Lincoln Journal Star, when Brown spoke at that Omaha City Council meeting, he gave the stadium’s address as his own.
Even more telling is the interview Zeigler cites with Sharing the Victory, in which Brown likens homosexuality to thievery, lying, and alcoholism. Then — the real kicker — he says that Christians in the locker room have an obligation to steer their teammates away from such behavior:
“When you love God, it means you must love your neighbor as well. You don’t deny the truth, but in love and sensitivity you put your arms around that person struggling with homosexuality and you help walk him or her to the truth of Jesus Christ, just as you would any other player involved in any other sin.”
You can hear Brown respond to Zeigler’s article on a local radio station here (mp3). Spoiler alert: most of the time he doesn’t get it. The rest of the time, he just doesn’t care that you don’t think his Bible is a good enough reason to discriminate against people. Brown explicitly denies the need to draw a line between his personal beliefs and his position at the University. There’s also a healthy dose of Christian persecution complex and some bonus transphobia.
The University of Nebraska has distanced itself from Brown’s comments at the Omaha City Council meeting but affirmed “the right of its faculty and students to participate in public dialogue and to express their personal views.”
But that’s not what Brown is doing. Brown is using the University as a pedestal from which to wave the banner of prejudice. He’s creating a hostile environment in the locker rooms of a taxpayer-funded institution with his religious dogma.
Athlete Ally has a Change.org petition asking the University of Nebraska to fire Brown. If this kind of thing pisses you off, be sure to also check out Athlete Ally and the new You Can Play Project, both of which promote acceptance of LGBT athletes at every level of every sport.
Unlike Ron Brown.