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Protest set at Pepperdine to support lesbian basketball players suing for anti-gay bias

"I am straight and I am just as passionate as any gay activist because of what I have seen them to do my sister," the protest organizer says.

Haley Videckis, left, and Layana White are suing Pepperdine.
Haley Videckis, left, and Layana White are suing Pepperdine.

The brother of a lesbian former basketball player at Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., is organizing a protest Thursday against what is alleged to be anti-gay discrimination against his sister and another former player at the school.

Haley Videckis and Layana White have filed a lawsuit against the university and women's basketball coach Ryan Weisenberg over what they said was a systemic pattern of harassment and discrimination based on their sexual orientation. Among the allegations were comments made by Weisenberg where he said "lesbianism isn't tolerated here" and "lesbianism is real and it's a big problem in women's basketball."

The two players, who left the Pepperdine program and have not played anywhere this season, also allege in the suit that an academic coordinator became obsessed with determining whether they were lesbians, asking questions such as, "Are you gay?" "Do you push your beds together?" "Do you sleep together?" They further say that school authorities did nothing to help when presented with their allegations.

The protest is being organized by Brandon White, the brother of Layana White. In an email to Outsports, he said that he left playing basketball for Skagit Valley College in Washington state so he could help out his sister.

The reason I am supporting my sister is because she is the first person in our family to ever go to college, and she was planning on going to medical school. But now, getting her degree from Pepperdine and her dreams of ever playing Division 1 basketball have been ripped away from her.

On top of that, Layana attempted to commit suicide back in September because of the severe discrimination for her sexual orientation. Layana and Haley submitted a 50 page well-being report to the NCAA, and they haven't replied for months nor tried to help the girls play basketball again -- because they need an NCAA waiver to transfer again. I left the basketball program at Skagit Valley College in Washington because I can't watch my sister go through this alone. I am straight and I am just as passionate as any gay activist because of what I have seen them to do my sister.

The school has not responded in detail to the allegations in the suit, though a PR person told the Pepperdine Graphic newspaper: "We take allegations of this kind very seriously. We conducted an immediate and thorough investigation and found no evidence to support these claims. The University remains committed to a diverse and inclusive environment."

Brandon White said that he has organized around 50 people to attend the protest Thursday, starting at 5 p.m. They include Pepperdine alumni, Pepperdine students, friends and family. Prior to transferring to Pepperdine, White played at the University of Arizona and Videckis at Arizona State.

Pepperdine is affiliated with the Churches of Christ and bills itself as a "Christian university committed to the highest standards of academic excellence and Christian values, where students are strengthened for lives of purpose, service, and leadership."