After dispute over lesbian coach, Belmont clarifies antidiscrimination policy

January 28, 2011

Trustees at Belmont University in Nashville have voted to add sexual
orientation to the historically Baptist school's antidiscrimination
policy. In December Belmont parted ways with a successful women's soccer
coach, Lisa Howe, after she told her team that she and her same-sex
partner were expecting a baby.

The controversy captured national
attention in sporting news and prompted discussions among campus groups
about whether the private, Christian university discriminates against
gays.

Belmont president Bob Fisher said January 26 that the
trustees' addition of sexual orientation to the school's policy against
discrimination simply puts into writing what was already being
practiced.

During his 11 years as president, Fisher said, sexual
orientation "has not been considered in student admissions nor in
hiring, promotion, salary or dismissal decisions."

For more than
50 years Belmont was affiliated with the Tennessee Baptist Con­vention.
Those ties ended in 2007, with the settlement of a lawsuit over whether
trustees had the right to elect their own successors instead of those
selected by the convention.

Randy Davis, executive director of the
state convention, told Baptist Press that Belmont had walked away from
its "Christian heritage and roots."

Howe, the former soccer coach
who reportedly stepped down in mutual agreement with the administration,
told local media that she is pleased with the new antidiscrimination
policy but is pursuing several job leads and doesn't plan to reapply at
Belmont.  —ABP