I’ve been doing the moving into temporary housing this weekend so I’ve been out of pocket, but I want to comment on Lisa Howe, the Belmont Soccer coach who got canned from Belmont last week. She was fired for being a gay woman and coming out after she and her partner decided to have a child. Students protested yesterday in freezing conditions as snow spit down lazily on the city of Nashville.
We have yet to see if that will make a difference. Hopefully it will.
On the Belmont website, her praises are definitely sung for her being an exemplary addition to the Belmont Athletic program since she began her coaching career at the university in 2005.
The first graph:
Lisa Howe became the fifth head coach in the history of the women’s soccer program when she accepted the position in the spring of 2005. In a mere three seasons, she has rebuilt Belmont’s program and has helped it become a feared contender not just in the Atlantic Sun but in the region as well.
So she was a good coach. Hmmm.
There is an underlying issue to this story. Other bloggers, including Betsy Phillips and Samantha, have documented this quite well and Christy Frink of The Nashvillest has been an amazing wealth of advocacy and information, especially on Twitter. The issue I speak of is that the state of Tennessee has no employment protection rights for LGBT employees. Even nationally, LGBT rights are constantly stalled in committee. Tennessee is a right-to-work state, but let’s be clear, just because the law most likely supports Belmont University’s decision, the firing of Howe does not make it right. This is why there is so much deserved outrage on the ethical and moral decision made by the university’s administration.
One key word that I hope doesn’t lose it’s power that has been bantied around the past few months is bullying. But bullying takes many forms. When young gay people, and there are undoubtedly young gay people at Belmont College, are given the lesson that telling the truth will get you fired, despite a winning record and a celebrated history amongst the students and peers, the question is simple.
What kind of message is that?
Tennessee, you’ve had a really crappy week when it comes to acceptance. Another case in point is that of Akasha Adonis, who went out with her mother on Black Friday to do some shopping and was attacked at a Kohl’s store in Jackson. Adonis’ jaw was broken, hair pulled and assaulted beyond belief. Adonis, a transgendered woman, found that officers were not as helpful when they saw on her driver’s license the name Jonathan Quick. Head to the TEP’s Grand Division blog and you will see the pictures of the assault and the aftermath of Adonis trying to get some justice after the violent incident.
Once again, what kind of message are we sending to our youth? You don’t have to have a slushie thrown in your face (Glee reference) to be bullied. Sometimes the bullying is the message spread by leaders that people should be put in different societal classes. If you are a young gay or transgendered person, you are supposed to keep quiet. And that, my friends, is unacceptable.
So Belmont has some choices to make. As does the Jackson Police Department which is when are people going to be treated equally.