Second, we know from the "don't ask, don't tell" experiment that was conducted for a decade by the US Armed Forces, that this policy is personally damaging to those who must hide their identity, it actually breaks down the trust that is required to do very difficult and dangerous work, and it blocks opportunities for advancement by gay and lesbian service people.
It seems reasonable to assume that the same is true in women's basketball as it would be in any arena. If teammates can't fully trust each other then they cannot fully cooperate and their success will be limited. Sure, Baylor has won at least two national championships with lesbians playing under the "don't ask, don't tell" policy, but one wonders how many more could have been won, especially most recently in March 2013 when Baylor was eliminated fairly early on in the tournament.
What should be done?
I don't know Kim Mulkey personally nor do I know the entire situation, so I'm willing to grant her some grace and assume that her implementation of a "don't ask, don't tell" policy could have been designed to protect her players from possible expulsion by Baylor University should their sexuality be revealed.
And, certainly, Baylor University as a private institution has the legal right to have any standards they want in their student handbook. It is legal for Baylor to discriminate against people who identify as part of the LGBTQ community.
But, does the legal protection make it right?
As is the case with so many other movements for civil rights, I challenge the Big 12 Conference, other women's basketball programs, and the NCAA to step up to the plate and take a stand for the civil and human rights of all student athletes.
The Big 12 and NCAA are "member" organizations. They could require that all member institutions--including Baylor University--implement non-discrimination policies that declare sexuality and gender identity as "protected statuses." In order to compete in the Big 12 and the NCAA Baylor would have to drop the "don't ask don't tell" policy and allow all their athletes (and students, faculty and staff) to live openly regardless of their sexuality or gender identity.
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