Fired Belmont coach Lisa Howe speaks

Editor's note: Got this release this evening from a law office representing Lisa Howe, the Belmont University women's soccer coach who was fired for being a lesbian.

Lisa Howe, the former soccer coach at Belmont University, will not comment on any topic related to the University other than to respectfully disagree with the suggestion in the Sunday Tennessean article made by the chair of the Belmont Board of Trustees that being gay or lesbian is somehow “immoral” or compromises Christian values at Belmont. However, Howe is willing to share her personal perspective of the reactions that have unfolded.

“I cannot adequately express my thanks to the many, many students, faculty members, parents and friends who have shown and expressed their support of me and my family, or to the people and organizations I didn’t even know before this series of events who likewise are getting in touch and offering encouragement,” she says. “I am deeply touched and will be forever grateful to them.”

Howe admits it isn’t easy being the center of media attention. “No one wants their private family life made public or likes to think that people are talking about them,” she relates, “but I feel like I need to explain just a little about myself, for I have always held my head high and will continue to do so. I believe I am a good, moral person, who cares for others. Those and other basic Christian tenets are important to me, to how I live my life, including as a coach, and to what I want to teach my child as he or she grows up. I have never intentionally detracted from the goodness or holiness inherent in any person or institution, and I do my best not to judge people based on personal characteristics such as race, gender, religion, ability, or sexual orientation or gender identity.”

Howe explains that the past few days have been distractions in her otherwise happy, fulfilled life. “I am a dedicated, respected, and successful soccer coach. I was a good student athlete recruiter, had an organized and professionally run program, and was one of Belmont’s best employees. None of that changed when I acknowledged that I am a lesbian and that my partner and I are expecting a baby. I am proud of who I am and my family and our future, and I want every person - no matter what race, religion, nationality or sexuality they represent - to feel the same way. Yes, I would have preferred not to be in the headlines, but if my situation leads to one person beginning to feel acceptance now, or one more person becoming more understanding of diversity, and if people can begin to talk openly and honestly about topics they never broached before, then this unfortunate situation will have served a positive purpose. While the past several days have been difficult, I can compare this period to something familiar to student athletes - the summer workout. While that is exhausting and painful, it prepares us to be able to accomplish something great in the future.

“As a collegiate soccer coach for the last 17 years, my goals have always been to make my players better and to give them the tools they need to reach their potential. I believe that I am continuing to do that, although more indirectly now. This is an educational experience for all of us–including Belmont University.”

In conclusion Howe adds, “I respectfully ask members of the media to turn their attention away from me and toward the broader issues at stake that affect so many people in the Belmont community–such as what it means to be a diverse Christian community and how we can support and respect each other despite our differences. I refer you to my attorney, Abby Rubenfeld, from here in Nashville who is a pioneer in this field, and to the organizations who share my belief that understanding is a Christian value and a most worthwhile and needed goal.”

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