Lisa Howe, women's soccer coach at Belmont University in Tennessee lost her job after she told the school she wanted to reveal that she and her female partner were expecting a baby (her partner is pregnant).
According to her players, Howe was given the choice by school officials to quit or be fired. While school officials would not talk, the school's athletics director Mike Strickland gave his reasons when meeting with a player, the Tennessean reported.
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."
Tennessee does not have a non-discrimination policy based on sexual orientation, so Howe has no legal recourse. She was not commenting, but did issue a release saying "I am at a point in my life where I am satisfied to move on."
Teammates said that Howe wanted to tell the team about her baby since she did not them to hear about it second-hand.
"My question for [the school] 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."
Howe compiled a 52-48-16 record at Belmont and won the conference title in 2009 when she was named Atlantic Sun coach of the year.
This story shows that is still possible in many parts of the country to be fired solely for one's sexual orientation. At the same time, the national Employee Non-Discrimination Act languishes in Congress years after being introduced.
Reading many of the comments on the Tennessean story is pretty depressing, though this one was both offensive, clueless and unintentionally funny at the same time:
I wouldnt think a lesbian would be a correct fit as a womens sport coach---Belmont did the right thing. Thankfully, there is no anti-discrim law in Tennessee based on sexual orientation---I dont see one coming anytime soon, thankfully!
And thankfully I don't live in Tennessee.