NASHVILLE, Tennessee, December 10, 2010 ( – A Christian university in Tennessee is being attacked for dismissing a lesbian coach, although neither the coach nor the school president have said that the coach’s sexual orientation was part of the decision.

Lisa Howe, a women’s soccer coach at Belmont University, was dismissed from her position sometime after it became known that she was planning to raise a child with her lesbian partner, who had become pregnant.

Howe’s players maintain the revelation was the reason for her Dec. 2 firing, and since then the University has been the site of sustained protests by students and at least one benefactor.

Mike Curb, one of the major donors to the school, demanded this week that the school “act like Christians” and rehire Howe. Homosexual students and Howe’s soccer players staged a protest on Sunday and a sit-in on Monday outside the president’s office, reported the Associated Press.

However, to date neither party has stated a reason for the dismissal. Belmont President Robert Fisher said in a statement Thursday that Howe’s players were misguided.

“In the 10 years I have served as Belmont’s president, sexual orientation has not been considered in making hiring, promotion, salary or dismissal decisions. I need for you to hear that clearly,” said Fisher.

Howe herself has not stated that her orientation was behind the affair. However, in a statement from her lawyer she said, “I do know that policies and attitudes would have to change for me to come back to Belmont and feel safe and welcome and for me to feel like my family would be safe and welcome.”

Belmont, once affiliated with the Southern Baptist church, broke away in 2007 and is now considered a left-leaning campus.

Yet the incident has some convinced that the school is still too strongly associated with Christian values. “Belmont has to decide whether they want to be a national recognized university — particularly with their school of music business — or they want to be a church,” said Curb.

The clash between Christian values and homosexuality on school grounds has become an increasingly touchy subject in recent years. A national uproar ensued this summer after Dr. Kenneth Howell, an adjunct professor of Catholic teaching at the University of Illinois, was barred from teaching after a gay student complained that Howell’s statement calling homosexuality incompatible with the natural moral law amounted to “hate speech.” Howell was later re-offered his position.

In Canada last April, one employee at a private Catholic school fought the decision to disallow her from teaching classes when it was revealed she was to raise a child with her lesbian partner.