Ole Miss football players, students reportedly shout slurs durin - WSFA.com: News Weather and Sports for Montgomery, AL.

Ole Miss football players, students reportedly shout slurs during gay awareness play

Posted: Updated:
Ole Miss officials issued a statement apology Thursday. It is a play that student actor Garrison Gibbons will never forget. Ole Miss officials issued a statement apology Thursday. It is a play that student actor Garrison Gibbons will never forget.
Gibbons, who is also gay, could not believe the words and laughter coming from the audience. Gibbons, who is also gay, could not believe the words and laughter coming from the audience.

(WMC-TV) - An investigation is underway after allegations that students and athletes were using gay slurs at a school play, which was about a man who was murdered for being gay.

Ole Miss officials issued a statement apology Thursday. It is a play that student actor Garrison Gibbons will never forget.

"People in the audience, [I] overheard them calling me a --- and calling me a ----," said Gibbons.

In the play, "The Laramie Project" Gibbons acts as Matthew Sheppard, who was a homosexual murdered in Wyoming. Gibbons, who is also gay, could not believe the words and laughter coming from the audience.

"I also realized that people were taking out their camera phones and taking photos of me," said Gibbons.

Assistant theatre department chair Michael Barnett says the play was meant to raise awareness and foster discussions about homosexuality, but not in the form of disruptions in the middle of the performance.

"It's only five or six rows deep so whatever they were saying was likely to be heard on stage," said Barnett.

Barnett said members of the football team apologized after the play, but some of the cast members did not buy it.

"There's been some question about if they understood why they were apologizing," said Barnett.

Students on campus were shocked to hear about the incident on Thursday.

Last year students yelled racial slurs after President Obama was re-elected. Most of the people said these actions of a few give the rest a black eye, but as long as incidents keep happening it is a scar that will not go away.

"As much as we'd like to think it's 2013 and in 1998 when Matthew Sheppard got murdered was a long time ago, I think we were reminded by this event that there still is hatred," said Gibbons.

A biased incident response team is investigating and will hand findings over to the school for possible action. See the school's statement here.

The school released the below statements regarding the reports of students shouting gay slurs during the play:

Below is the statement from Dr. Jones and Ross concerning the incident Tuesday night.

While we work to determine with certainty who disrupted the Laramie Project play, we want everyone within our university community and beyond to know that we strongly condemn the behavior exhibited Tuesday night. As a member of the Ole Miss family, each of us has a responsibility to be accountable for our actions, and these individuals will be held accountable. Our investigation will determine the degree to which any and all students were involved.

As a first step to addressing behavior at the performance Tuesday night, we will meet today with the freshman student-athletes (from various sports) who attended the play and have a dialogue about what happened, about our university-wide commitment to inclusivity and civility, and about the important role they play in representing the university. It is clear that some students badly misrepresented the culture of this university. From there, we will work with Student-Affairs and the Bias Incident Response Team to determine the facts and appropriate next steps.

Incidents like this remind all educators that our job is to prepare our students to be leaders in life during their years on campus and after they graduate from Ole Miss. This behavior by some students reflects poorly on all of us, and it reinforces our commitment to teaching inclusivity and civility to young people who still have much to learn. We will be engaging our student-athletes with leaders on the subject of individuality and tolerance, so we can further enforce life lessons and develop them to their fullest potential.

On behalf of our 22,000 students, our faculty, and our staff, we apologize.

Copyright 2013 WMC-TV. All rights reserved.

Powered by WorldNow