Former WNBA player Camille LeNoir is suing New Mexico State University for rescinding a job offer after learning that she had begun to take her religious faith more seriously, renounced her homosexual lifestyle, and embraced heterosexuality.
LeNoir, who played basketball at the University of Southern California before being drafted in the second round by the Washington Mystics, told The Washington Post that she was thrilled when her former college coach, Mark Trakh, offered her an assistant coach position at New Mexico State. However, two days after she accepted the job, LeNoir was informed that the offer had been rescinded.
LeNoir identified as gay for most of her life, having begun dating women at age 16 and continuing to live a homosexual lifestyle until seven years ago, when, while playing overseas in Greece, she began spending more time reading the Bible and taking her Christian faith more seriously. In 2011, her last year playing in Greece, LeNoir agreed to give a Skype interview with a Christian organization in which she said that engaging in homosexual relationships is "not worth losing your soul" and that she believed others living that lifestyle could "overcome and defeat sin."
In a phone call on April 26, 2016, two days after being offered the job, Trakh informed her that the offer was rescinded, specifically citing her 2011 interview as the reason. The Post reports:
Trakh retracted the job offer, LeNoir said, and advised her to remove the video if she ever wanted to work in college basketball. LeNoir said she was devastated. She felt she could be an effective coach regardless of what she’d said in that video. And besides, LeNoir figured, hadn’t she already accepted the position?
“I felt the job was taken away because of my heterosexuality,” LeNoir, 31, said in a recent interview.
Now, LeNoir is suing New Mexico State for discrimination for her religious beliefs and sexual identity.
While the university admits that Trakh did in fact rescind the job offer and that the video was the primary reason, it denies that any discrimination took place, arguing in court filings that her views on homosexuality "would have had an adverse impact" on her ability to coach and recruit LGBT players. The university also maintains that Trakh was not empowered to extend a formal offer.
Despite the university's contentions, a federal judge has allowed the case to move forward, setting the stage for a significant legal battle involving religious freedom, sexual identity, and discrimination.
The Post provides more details on LeNoir's journey into her sexual identity, including the struggle she experienced attempting to reconcile her homosexual lifestyle with her religious faith, particularly in a sport that has a high percentage of players who identify as gay.
"It was tough. I ended my last relationship [and] I was in love. There was nothing that went wrong in that relationship," she said of the point at which she decided to stop engaging in homosexual relationships. "And so it was just a constant wrestling with what I know the Bible says, my family says and my emotions. And so I got to the point where, like, I’m choosing this over that."
In the 2011 interview, LeNoir said that despite believing most of her life that she was gay, she no longer sees it that way. "If you believe something that you were born gay or homosexual or whatever — if you feel you were born that way — I would say that you weren’t," she said. "God wouldn’t create you homosexual, then say in the Bible that it’s wrong, and then send you to hell. He doesn’t operate like that." She encouraged those who struggle with their sexual identity to trust that God gives them the ability to "overcome it."