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Saturday, December 4, 2010

Belmont University: Employees Shouldn't Be Forced to Resign for Being Gay

Targeting: Andrew Johnston (Dean of Students), Todd Lake (Vice President), Bob Fisher (President), and Greg Pillon (Office of Communications)
It's been quite the month for Belmont University, at least in terms of LGBT rights. In mid-November, school administrators refused to approve a campus group for gay students, going so far as to say that allowing groups of gay students to meet on campus would violate the school's moral code. Dean of Students Andrew Johnston even went on record to say that gay Christians could be disruptive.
Now Belmont University has stepped in it again, with students on the university's women's soccer team saying that their coach, Lisa Howe, was forced to resign because she was about to have a baby with her same-sex partner. Howe had been a coach there for more than five years, and was well regarded by her players. She even coached the team to the Atlantic Sun Conference regular-season championship in 2009.
But Belmont University apparently doesn't care about the talent of their coaching staff. They're more concerned about policing the bedrooms of their employees.
Send the University a message that denying LGBT students the chance to meet, or firing employees because of who they want to start a family with, is not only offensive, it runs counter to the "Christian" values that the school is supposed to espouse. Values like loving your neighbor, showing respect for all, and welcoming all to the table in the spirit of love and forgiveness.

petition text -

I am deeply dismayed at the events going on at Belmont University over the past month, and the message of intolerance your University continues to send. First came word that the university was denying a request from a group of gay students to form an organization on campus. Dean Johnston, you even went so far as to suggest that gay Christians could be disruptive.

Now comes word that a successful soccer coach, Lisa Howe, has been questionably removed from your school. While statements from you, Mr. Pillon, suggest that Howe resigned, students across the women's soccer team are saying that Howe was put in the position of choosing to resign, or be fired, solely because she wanted to start a family with her same-sex partner.

Both of these actions are offensive, intolerant, and completely contrary to the Christian values of loving your neighbor, showing respect for all, and welcoming all to the table. Being a religiously-affiliated school does not mean having to be a place where intolerance toward gays and lesbians thrives.

But your actions this past month are proving otherwise. The reputation of Belmont University has decreased in my eyes, and I'm saddened that while students at your school seem willing to love everyone and work with everyone without judgment, university officials are all too eager to create a climate of intolerance and discrimination.

I urge you to allow gay students to meet on campus, and to find a way to keep Coach Howe with your program. These aren't radical requests. They come from the heart of someone who does not want to see "Christian" values become synonymous with bigotry.

Thank you for your time.


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