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Students react to Jason Collins announcement - abc27 WHTM

Students react to Jason Collins announcement

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ENOLA, Pa. (WHTM) -

There are more than 1,400 students are enrolled at Central Penn College in Cumberland County.

The Rainbow Society has a membership of 25 students who support gay rights, and Janee McLean plays on the woman's basketball team. McLean has a lot in common with Jason Collins.

They both love the game of basketball, and they both play the same position: McLean is the center on the Central Penn College women's team, and she says Collins coming out was
a slam dunk.

"They think of it as a disease or trend, but it's who we are. I think it's good that he came out, I'm proud of him."

McLean knows it wasn't easy for Collins to tell the world he was gay, because she remembers her one-on-one conversation when she told her mother about her sexual orientation. "I said, 'Mom, I am gay.' At first she thought it was as phase. She did the crying intervention thing, but she realized it, and she is used to it."

Shaashawn Dial is the lead student advisor at the college.  She says Jason Collins sent a statement that being gay is okay. She wrestled with her own sexuality growing up and says it was difficult to hear from family members that being gay is just an excuse for wanting to be a rebel or send some kind of political statement. 

Dial oversees the Rainbow Society and she helps students deal with problems across the board including the pressures from society that come after admitting that you are gay.

Over on the East Shore, Louie Merven is the executive director of the LGBT Center in Harrisburg. He said he waited until after college to come out. "I didn't feel I would be affirmed or accepted. I waited to come out after I was out of that space."

Merven calls Jason Collins a pioneer.

Back on Central Penn's campus, Jordan Parrish says he has friends from all walks of life, and the Collins announcement sends a big picture message. "The fact that this is a news story at all shows me how far we have to go as a society."

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