Overhearing the conversation, Compton-Butler, according to Zimbardi, said: “I hope you don’t get one of those ‘butch’ haircuts.” “I just stood there shocked,” Zimbardi says, as she interpreted "butch" to mean lesbian. Basically, [Compton-Butler] outed me in front of another employee of the university. I don’t want to be defined by [being a lesbian], especially by someone who doesn’t know my personal life.
I felt that was an intrusion.”As the spring softball season began, Zimbardi says, she began to be frozen out of team activities.
Zimbardi says she was not informed about team practices, and gradually saw her playing time shrink until she was finally released on March 6.“[Johns’] discrimination is very subtle,” says Karen Doering, an attorney with the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), which is investigating Zimbardi’s allegations.
“Based on her deep intrusion into [players’] personal lives, outing other coaches and players, and her [religious moralizing], she sends a clear message to the lesbian players that [homosexuality] is not acceptable.
"I don't want to be defined by that, especially by someone who doesn't know my personal life.
The player says she was speaking with a secretary in the softball athletic office about getting a haircut from the secretary’s stylist when Compton-Butler walked by.
Zimbardi, though, suspects the real reason is that she’s a lesbian.This should have been a happy time for Andrea Zimbardi.Her University of Florida softball team was in the NCAA playoffs and she had been hoping to play a key role as the team’s catcher.Both players tell stories similar to Zimbardi’s, of seeing their playing time suddenly and dramatically shrink, ending in their release for unspecified reasons.Both former players were interviewed with the promise of anonymity.She had a good relationship with Johns, who wrote a letter of recommendation for Zimbardi for a scholarship.But things began to change, she says, with the hiring of a new pitching coach, Compton-Butler (she was Heather Compton at the time and married in January), in the fall.Outsports interviewed two former players, each of whom, like Zimbardi had had relationships with women.These former players tell of Johns delving into what they say was inappropriate personal territory, trying to discern which players might be lesbians.She’s not doing the ‘no-gay-people-can-play-for-me’ thing. But she’s creating an environment where lesbian athletes feel uncomfortable.” The University of Florida does not include sexual orientation in its non-discrimination policy (see update at bottom).Zimbardi isn’t the only player kicked off the team since Johns took over the programin June 2000.