Belmont Fires Soccer Coach for Being a Lesbian [UPDATED]

UPDATE: According to the Belmont Vision:

Belmont University released a second statement late Friday afternoon regarding  “the conclusion of Coach Lisa Howe’s employment at Belmont University.”

According to the statement, the university and Howe agree that she “did not ‘resign’ from her employment. Neither was she dismissed.”

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UPDATE: There is a petition on Change.org now to demand that Belmont make their campus more accepting and inclusive of gay students, faculty, and staff.  As of this moment, there are 195 signatures and counting.

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UPDATE:  Jezebel picked up the story and gave me some link love.

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UPDATE: Here’s a link to Belmont Vision, the campus newspaper at Belmont.  They have ongoing coverage of Howe’s “resignation”.

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UPDATE: If you want to let the administration at Belmont know that you don’t like way that Coach Howe has been treated, contact them here:

As my buddy Brandon says, “If everyone speaks up they will not be able to ignore you.”

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Or something like that.  According to Belmont (which is in Nashville), the coach resigned when her same-sex relationship came to light.  Of course, as this article says, she was first dismissed by the university after disclosing to her players that she and her partner were expecting a child.

And Belmont really, really, really wants you to know that Coach Lisa Howe made this decision on her own without any prodding or pushing by Belmont (emphasis in quote is mine):

Belmont athletics director Mike Strickland released an official statement: “Women’s soccer coach Lisa Howe has informed the university of her intent to conclude her employment with Belmont. This was a decision Coach Howe made. Belmont is so grateful for the work Coach Howe has done and her commitment to women’s soccer and Belmont athletics.”

But, it turns out, that Howe’s players don’t seem to think that Howe left voluntarily:

Erica Carter, a senior on the team, said Howe told her and her roommate Ashley Hudak, a junior on the team, Tuesday that athletics department officials had given her the choice to resign or be terminated because she had told the team her partner was pregnant with a baby due in May.

According to Carter, Howe had asked the university repeatedly to let her tell her players about her impending motherhood but they ignored or refused her request.  She did it anyway.  The captain of the team was told that Belmont basically has a DADT policy when it comes to gays and lesbians on their staff – you can be gay but you aren’t allowed to talk about it at work:

Team captain Sari Lin said she met with Strickland on Tuesday and he told her Howe had violated a university policy pertaining to individual sexuality.

“He basically said we have the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy and when she told us about the pregnancy, it violated that,” Lin said. “She was telling us what her sexual preference is. He said you can hide your sexuality, but you can’t hide a baby. He pretty much told me that once the baby was born she was going to get fired anyway, so it’s better to do it sooner than later.”

Ouch.  Seriously, ouch.  Or, rather, holy shit.  These women on this team are so brave to tell this side of the story.

In case you are wondering, the Tennessee Humans Right Act doesn’t seem to think that gay rights = human rights, as there is “no protection based on sexual orientation. In the area of employment and public accommodation, the THRA protects against discrimination based on a person’s race, color, creed, religion, national origin, sex, disability and age (older than 40).”

As one blogger in Nashville wrote, “So, if you can’t quite believe that things get better, especially in the face of news like this, know, at least, that you are not alone.”

And in related blogging, please check out Fannie’s Room post on Women’s Sports and the Lavendar Menace that she wrote a couple of days ago.  Fitting, really.

[Thanks to my friend, Brandon, a Belmont alum who is upset about this injustice, who posted multiple articles about this on his Facebook feed today.]

Comments are closed.

  1. Burt says:

    Okay, before you throw too much fuel on an already obvious fire, consider the number of degrees away you are from the bold “quote” about the fact that she was going to be fired anyway.

    Your quote comes from the Tennessean.
    Their quote comes from a student.
    The student is quoting Strickland — I mean, paraphrasing, er, summing up, er, giving the “gist” of Strickland.
    Strickland was in “Sleepers” with Kevin Bacon.

    I’m not arguing that Belmont is in the right here. All I’m saying is the story just broke and bloggers are doing what bloggers do:

    commentarycommentarycommentarycommentary

    commentarycommentarycommentarycommentary
    commentarycommentarycommentarycommentary
    commentarycommentarycommentarycommentary
    commentarycommentarycommentarycommentary

    Let’s let journalists do their job before going all crazy.

  2. scatx says:

    A newspaper quoted a student. Those are the degrees.

    I don’t think I am trying to cover up the fact that she is talking about the impression she got from Strickland. That’s clear from the quote. You, as the reader, can determine for yourself how you want to take it.

    But I have no reason to believe that she is lying, mainly because she gets no benefit from it if she is. Not only will her athletic director know she said that but so will top university administrators at the school she currently attends. If you have a reason for me to believe that the Tennessean is fabricating quotes, then please provide evidence (The Tennessean counts as journalism, no?).

    Also, your characterization of this post as “all crazy” is hyperbolic. I’m just rehashing what journalists have already said (since they do seem to already be doing their jobs) and providing people the means to contact administrators (which I got from a Belmont alum who cares about this issue). You trying to make me feel “crazy” by saying that I am doesn’t work.

  3. Bill Ford says:

    The Belmont administration are a bunch of hypocrites. The school has well over a hundred of gay and lesbian students on campus but the administration won’t let them form a LGBT student group. Now they fire the soccer coach because she is a lesbian.

    Yet…..the administration doesn’t have any problem admitting these students or cashing their tuition checks. The coach should have had a lawyer in the meeting. The school pressured her into signing an agreement that she was resigning. If she hadn’t done that, the school would have had to find some kind of “for cause” reason for firing her. The tactics of the administration have effectively negated a federal discrimination lawsuit the coach could have had.

    The music industry in Nashville has thousands of gay/lesbian members in the community. I’d say the best way to let Belmont “see the light” is through the pocketbook. Boycott Belmont. The Audio Engineering Society and many, many other groups that rent event/exhibition/meeting space at Belmont should cancel or refuse to rebook for the coming years until Belmont realizes their error.

    Studios that get their free slave/interns from Belmont should immediately call the school and tell administrators that they will be getting their interns from MTSU and SAE in the future-until the policy at Belmont changes.

    It works both ways-if Belmont administration refuses to recognize and accept the gay community, those who DO recognize these individuals can (and should) refuse to recognize and support Belmont.

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