Coach Loses Job After Revealing Sexual Orientation
by Brent Frazier
Nashville, TENN. - Supporters of former Belmont University soccer coach Lisa Howe, newly out of the closet and newly out of a job, might never get the apology they're looking for, but it will not be for a lack of trying.
On a cold and overcast Sunday afternoon, roughly 30 demonstrators gathered at the corner of Belmont Boulevard and Bernard Avenue, arguably one of Belmont's busiest intersections, to publicly protest the recent termination of Howe, one of the winningest coaches in Belmont history. Howe had recently told the roughly 28 players on her women's soccer team that she and her same-sex partner are expecting their first child.
Belmont University initially said Ms. Howe had resigned; then, the statement was amended to reflect that it was a mutual parting of ways, and in both parties' best interests for Howe to terminate her employment with the university.
"It's 2010, and it's embarrassing," said Guy Farmer, the organizer of Sunday's demonstration, and a graduate of Belmont. "And there's a little embarrassment to be involved in an institution that would fire a coach for her sexual orientation!"
Farmer said Belmont owes Howe, the students at the University, gay people in Nashville, and gay people everywhere an apology. Senior soccer player Erica Carter agrees, though an official "I'm sorry," somehow does not seem likely.
Belmont is a private, not a public, university. Furthermore, it does still identify as being linked closely with the Christian community. However, Belmont did break its official ties with the Tennessee Baptist Convention back in 2007.
"We expect people to commit themselves to high moral and ethical standards within a Christian context," Marty Dickens, chairman of Belmont's board of trustees told the Tennessean. "That includes members of the board, faculty and administration."
Even if the university never apologizes to anyone, and never gives the coach's job back, Belmont should amend its discrimination statement to include sexual orientation, said Erica Carter, a graduating senior who played under Howe her entire four years.
"I think that they definitely need to include sexuality so that this can't happen to anyone again," Carter told NewsChannel 5 at Sunday's demonstration. "I really just couldn't believe that an institution that I believe in so much, and cared about so much, could be this hateful."
Belmont, officially, is sticking to its latest release on Friday: that Lisa Howe and the university mutually agreed to an immediate split.