Metro Councilwoman Kristine LaLonde, previously silent about Belmont University’s dismissal of gay women’s soccer coach Lisa Howe, is explaining her reluctance to speak on the issue.
In a letter sent Thursday to constituents, LaLonde, who is a professor at Belmont and represents the surrounding neighborhood on the council, said her “discretion was motivated by respect for my colleagues and students.”
“I was never motivated by fear for my position at Belmont or by the possibility of negative repercussions for my career,” LaLonde said. “From my first job interviews with Belmont, I have made clear that my own Christian faith has informed support for equality and justice for all, including the GLBT community, and I have always felt supported by Belmont.”
Last week, The City Paper sought comment from LaLonde regarding Howe’s dismissal, but she declined.
“In the last two weeks, I have strongly believed that the goal of nondiscrimination at Belmont was best served by my working in my capacity as a faculty member,” LaLonde said. “Along with many, many of my faculty colleagues, I have been devoting many hours toward the goal of ensuring that Belmont’s policies of inclusion and nondiscrimination are clear and powerful. During this work, I have felt it was important that I not be seen as using the issue to further my own political fortunes. I wanted to respect the confidentiality and discretion that the discussions then warranted.”
LaLonde cited recent comments from Belmont President Bob Fisher, who said, “Belmont is committed to working with faculty, students, alumni, board members and the community-at-large to dialogue about our policies and practices to ensure that our actions are consistent with our values and to ensure that our campus remains a welcoming place for all.”
Said LaLonde, “Dialogues are indeed ongoing, and I will take an active role in helping to shape a Belmont that our neighborhood and city can continue to take pride in.”