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Students rally on Belmont Boulevard to protest Coach Howe’s exit

The first of several planned protests against Belmont’s actions toward women’s soccer coach Lisa Howe was held Sunday on the edge of campus, with students bundled against the cold and holding handmade signs.

Students cheered as passing vehicles honked their horns in support of their demonstration.

“The reason we are all out here today is to support Coach Howe, and we simply don’t think it’s right for someone to be fired for their sexual orientation,” Belmont alum (’09) Guy Farmer said.

“We’re here to show support for the freshmen who are 17, 18, even 19 years old, and seniors who even feel like they can’t come out of the closet, because if they do, they’ll be persecuted.”

Farmer—along with roughly 40 students, alumni, and supporters—braved temperatures in the low 30s and snow flurries to get their point across.

“I think this is really important for us to show our support as a community and to show that not all of Belmont feels the way they their trustees do,” Belmont senior Becca Stone said. “For us, firing Coach Howe because of her sexuality was not the Christian thing to do.”

The Rev. Melvin Talbert, a retired bishop of the United Methodist Church, addressed the crowd with words of support.

“I’m here to say to these young people that I think their cause is right. I wanted to give them encouragement and hope that justice will prevail,” Talbert said.

“Even though we live in a society where institutions have constructed laws to exclude people, within my heart, and I think in the hearts of these young people, we know that such laws are unjust.”

Talbert normally attends Clark Memorial United Methodist Church, but after reading about the protest in the Tennessean, he decided to attend Edgehill United Methodist this morning and visit the rally afterward.

“We must not do for them what they choose to do to us,” Talbert said. “What we must do is overcome their acts with love and respect.”

“So I’m here now to say to these young people, take heart. Be courageous. Don’t let people deter you. But I say to you, the road is not going to be easy, it’s going to be tough. But the joy comes in the morning when you finally prevail and it will take time for that, I know.’”

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