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Faculty discrimination silenced at Belmont

Belmont University, a Christian university of approximately 5,900 students located in Nashville, Tenn., recently hired new soccer coach Heather Henson.

 

Henson has 16 years of experience in coaching college soccer and is replacing former coach, Lisa Howe.

Why is this important? 

Henson’s new employment only occurred after Howe was allegedly dismissed after coming out as a lesbian and revealing that she and her partner were going to have a baby. The incident led to campus-wide protests in support of Howe, as well as national media coverage.

Employees in the Belmont administration have been interviewed saying that the university knew there was homosexual faculty but that they employed a “don’t ask, don’t tell” approach when it came to orientation. “When Howe told us about the pregnancy, it violated that,” Belmont junior Sari Lin said.

It was recently announced that Belmont will be adjusting university regulation in light of the recent events. Bob Fisher, Belmont University President, announced February 2 that the university’s board had amended school policy to include sexual orientation in the school’s non-discrimination clause.

“(This is) such a good day for both students and faculty of Belmont and definitely a huge day for Belmont trustees to vote like that,” Howe said. However, Belmont is not the only Christian university to have dealt with an issue like this in recent years. 

In 2004, Professor Kathleen Temple left her job in the Bible and Religion department at Eastern Mennonite University. Though Temple herself was straight, she said she was accused of having “wrong opinions” regarding same-sex relationships. 

In her resignation statement, Temple said she was tired of seeing colleagues intimidated by the university’s Board of Trustees, and the treatment of faculty who openly affirmed homosexual couples. 

Though EMU’s incident took place in 2004, the recent trouble at Belmont cannot help prompt us to question whether or not discrimination based on sexual orientation is an issue Eastern may one day face.

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