Women’s soccer coach, Lisa Howe, either resigned on her own or was pressured to resign depending on who you believe in this sordid story. She was a lesbian coach at a self-described “progressive Christian” school. Last year her team won the Atlantic Sun conference title and her overall win/loss record for her six seasons at Belmont was 52-48-16.
Apparently Belmont University is ok with lesbian coaches as long as they abide by a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. However, when Lisa’s partner got pregnant and rumors started circulating on the soccer team, Lisa decided she wanted to tell them directly about the happy coming event in her life. She wanted to be honest, in other words. She asked the athletic administrator more than once for “permission” to tell the team that her partner was pregnant, but he never responded to her. So, when it became apparent that women on the team were beginning to find out, Lisa told them without the “permission” of the athletic director.
According to accounts by players on her team, Lisa was pressured to resign because as soon as the baby was born, the AD told the team she would be fired anyway since beng a lesbian mother violated the school’s hypocritical policy asking lesbian and gay staff members to lie and hide in order to keep their jobs.
Belmont is a private Christian school and there are no laws in Tennessee protecting the employment rights of LGBT people so it might be that there is no legal recourse for what Belmont has done. Plus the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), the federal law that could provide this kind of legal protection for LGBT people in every state, is stalled in the political wars in the U.S. Congress.
What Belmont is doing might be legal, but it sure is not moral. From all accounts, Lisa Howe has been an exemplary coach. She even abided by the don’t ask, don’t tell policy imposed on LGBT employees at Belmont, at least until becoming a mother prompted her to tell her team out a desire to be honest and open. She even asked permission first, but faced with administrative silence, she did want she thought was best for her relationship with her team.
Among the many disgusting aspects of this story is the complete hypocrisy of Belmont University and its administrators. I have no doubt that Belmont administrators knew Lisa Howe is a lesbian. It was apparently fine to have a lesbian coach as long as she lied about and hid her sexual orientation. They obviously weren’t concerned about Lisa’s character or moral fiber. They were comfortable with her in a leadership position with the young women on her team for six years…as long as she was dishonest. How Christian of Belmont University. It’s enough to make me wonder if “Thou Shalt Be A Hypocrite” is a new the 11th commandment or something?
This would be a great time for Christians who believe that this kind of hypocrisy is wrong to stand up publicly and reclaim some of the moral high ground that the folks at Belmont University apparently are not familiar with.
In the meantime, the women’s soccer team just wants their coach back. They don’t understand what the big deal is here. They knew she was a lesbian and apparently were finding out she was about to become a mother too and it doesn’t seem to have been a problem for them. Maybe this is the silver lining, if there is one in this story: Younger generations of Christians are beginning to broaden their acceptance of different sexual orientations and gender identities or at least learning to live more authentically with the “diversity” that is only a buzzword for the leaders of Belmont University.
Save us from this brand of Christianity.
You can contact President Fisher at firstname.lastname@example.org and 615-460-6793. The Athletic Director, Mike Strickland can be reached at email@example.com or 615-460-5547 if you feel compelled to express your thoughts on their hypocrisy.