Shortly after being rocked by protests for alleged marginalization of a woman soccer coach who revealed that she was expecting a child with her same-sex partner, Belmont University came out with a public declaration that the Board of Trustees had amended its current non-discrimination policy to include sexual orientation.
In December 2010, Lisa Howe - a soccer coach in the Nashville, Tennessee-based University - left abruptly, shortly after coming out in public about her homosexuality.
While the University said that Lisa had not been fired for her sexual orientation, students strongly felt that she had been forced to leave for the reason and led several protests on campus. Belmont is also known to have objected to the formation of a student rights group that aimed to support gay students and explore questions of Christianity and homosexuality.
Belmont is a Christian university which was widely regarded for its progressive ideals till the controversy broke out over Howe's departure.
Now, as the University explicitly includes sexual orientation in its non-discrimination policy, it refuses that the policy revision has any connection with the Howe incident and simply describes it as a matter of articulating policy around what it has always maintained - that an individual's orientation would not affect hiring or firing decisions.
Strangely, however, the University has not issued any definite clarification on whether this would mean that gay and lesbian teachers, students or staff on campus could come out and still continue to work. Questioned over this, President of Belmont University, Bob Fisher repeatedly returned non-committal responses.
As one report by The Associated Press points out, sex outside of marriage is listed as misconduct in the University's student code of conduct. Given that same sex marriages are not legalized in Tennessee, it would mean that no homosexual student, and by extension even staff perhaps, could engage in sexual activity without violating the code.