Belmont University Coach Forced to Resign After Coming Out
Lisa Howe, Belmont University’s women’s soccer coach of more than five years, was forced to resign from her position after revealing her sexual orientation to her team and the school’s athletics administration. Howe had asked the Tennessee school’s administration for permission to inform her team that she and her partner were expecting a baby, but she did not receive a reply. As people on campus were beginning to find out, Howe took the initiative to inform the team herself and was then forced to either resign or be fired.
Belmont University athletics director Mike Strickland made this statement on Howe’s resignation, “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.”
However, since then many of Howe’s former players have spoken out with a different story. Team captain Sari Lin revealed that when she met with Strickland she was told, “basically we have the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy and when [Howe] told us about the pregnancy, it violated that. 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.”
Another player, senior Erica Carter, said Howe told her and another player that she had been given the choice of resigning or being terminated because she had revealed her sexuality. Carter also said that Howe was “hurt more than anything” by the situation and had left her new email address on a chalkboard for the team, along with the words “No Regrets”. Now the Belmont players are left with no coach, and many questions. “My question for them is why should she have to hide her baby?” Lin said. “Why should she have to hide anything about her sexuality? I hope we get some answers.”
Dozens of students, including former Belmont women’s soccer players, protested Howe’s resignation on campus Sunday and more protests are planned later this week. In addition an online petition was started here which mentions other LBGT discrimination at Belmont, along with supporting Lisa Howe.
We at Red Card Homophobia are disgusted and disappointed by the actions of Belmont University. Forcing a coach to hide her sexuality or be terminated goes against everything we stand for as an organization. Those who feel the same can sign the petition and/or email Belmont athletics director Mike Strickland at mike[dot]firstname.lastname@example.org. Belmont University needs to understand that if they call their school a community “…that empowers men and women of diverse backgrounds to engage and transform the world with disciplined intelligence, compassion, courage and faith” that diversity includes those of all sexual orientations.