Students Rally For Gay Coach

Thursday, December 9, 2010 - 3:44pm

Belmont University denies sexual orientation played a role in gay coach's firing.

Days after a Belmont University soccer coach left after revealing she is gay, the school's president said that sexual orientation does not play a part in hiring or firing and that the school is a "safe and welcoming place for all."

Belmont President Dr. Bob Fisher said he has received more than 400 calls, e-mails and messages regarding the matter and hopes to reply to all of them.

Mike Curb, a Nashville music industry executive and major contributor to Belmont University, said this week the school should rehire women's soccer coach Lisa Howe.

Howe said Wednesday she is excited to be a mother and is shocked by the outpouring of support from Belmont's community.

She said she is amazed and thankful for the support from students and Curb.

"I would do is thank Mike Curb for his support and his strong statement. I never knew it could get to that level," said Howe. "I miss my team. I have a lot invested in the program there."

Curb is also a former trustee at Belmont and gave the university $10 million toward construction of an event center that is named for him.

"It's time for Belmont to change and to recognize that we have gay students, faculty and staff," he said. "I want to see this board and the school leadership act like Christians."

Belmont officials have denied Howe was forced to resign, but several team members and Curb said she was.

"Belmont has to decide whether they want to be a national recognized university -- particularly with their school of music business -- or they want to be a church," Curb said.

Howe said Wednesday she isn't sure she would return if Belmont said she could have her job back.

"Belmont would have to change their attitude and policy to make me and my family feel welcome there,'" said Howe.

Belmont students held more protests on Wednesday after the coach left her position last week.

They were busy writing letters to various national news outlets, including the Ellen DeGeneres, along with Belmont's administrators.

Students said they wanted to make sure that the world knows what Belmont is doing is not right.

A march was also held across the campus and outside the president's office.

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