NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The former Belmont University women's soccer coach is responding to student protests, following her abrupt departure from the university.
Students insist that Lisa Howe was dismissed from the university over her sexual orientation.
Over the weekend, students were outspoken about her abrupt departure. In response, Belmont released a statement saying "the university supports their right to express their opinions".
On Monday, Howe released a statement in regard to the media attention:
"I cannot adequately express my thanks to the many, many students, faculty members, parents and friends who have shown and expressed their support… I believe I am a good, moral person, who cares for others. Those and other basic Christian tenets are important to me, to how I live my life, including as a coach, and to what I want to teach my child as he or she grows up. I have never intentionally detracted from the goodness or holiness inherent in any person or institution, and I do my best not to judge people based on personal characteristics such as race, gender, religion, ability, or sexual orientation or gender identity…. I am a dedicated, respected, and successful soccer coach. I was a good student athlete recruiter, had an organized and professionally run program, and was one of Belmont's best employees. None of that changed when I acknowledged that I am a lesbian and that my partner and I are expecting a baby. I am proud of who I am and my family and our future, and I want every person - no matter what race, religion, nationality or sexuality they represent - to feel the same way. Yes, I would have preferred not to be in the headlines, but if my situation leads to one person beginning to feel acceptance now, or one more person becoming more understanding of diversity, and if people can begin to talk openly and honestly about topics they never broached before, then this unfortunate situation will have served a positive purpose."
Howe and the university parted ways last week, after she and her partner announced that they were having a child.
Both Howe and the university deny that her sexuality had anything to do with her dismissal.
The university released a statement last week saying that it was not a termination or resignation, but rather a mutual agreement for Howe to conclude her employment with Belmont.