Former Belmont University women’s soccer coach Lisa Howe is urging Metro Council members to approve the legislation her recent job departure helped spur.
In a letter sent Thursday morning, Howe asks council members to support a controversial council bill that would require companies contracting with Metro to adopt nondiscrimination policies that protect gay, lesbian and transgendered workers.
The bill, sponsored by council members Jamie Hollin, Erica Gilmore and Mike Jameson, is up for the council’s second of three votes Feb. 15. Bill sponsors introduced the ordinance following the exit of Howe, who supporters say was dismissed after school officials discovered she planned to have a baby with her same-sex partner.
The proposal the council is set to consider would effectively extend the same non-discrimination policy Metro has for its employees to companies that conduct business with the city.
“Since Metro government has [the] same such policy of non-discrimination for its employees, it makes sense for businesses who make profit or gain from Metro to not discriminate on the basis of religion, race, sex, color, national or ethnic origin, age, disability, military service, sexual orientation, or gender identity,” Howe’s letter reads.
“Obviously, Metro is not putting any new or undue burdens on small or large businesses by having them sign an affidavit, which would now include sexual orientation and gender identity,” she writes. “Other cities who have adopted this policy have not reported increased legal issues, business expenses, or decreased business opportunities.”
In the letter, Howe contends the ordinance is “not a business issue,” but a “people issue.” She writes about the soul-searching she has done and how she will handle explaining matters, including being treated as a “second class citizen,” to her child.
“This is not a message that I want to send in my home to my children. In my opinion, this message is a form of bullying,” she writes. “There is no better time than now to stop the hate.”
Howe goes on to say that her sexual orientation has “zero effect on my job competency.”
“Please join me in sending a positive message of equality to my daughter and use your leadership position to state the truth that not discriminating [equals] good business,” she writes.
In the letter, Howe notes she plans to attend the Feb. 15 council meeting.