December 13, 2010
Dear Members of the Metropolitan Council:
We join many citizens of Nashville in expressing concern over reports of discrimination against members of the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community at Belmont University.
· The widely reported termination of women’s soccer coach Lisa Howe when it was revealed that she and her partner are having a child
· Denial of official recognition to Bridge Builders, a student group for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender students and their allies http://nashvillecitypaper.com/content/city-news/belmont-administration-gay-student-group-not-here
· The rescinding of a tenure-track position to instructor Rebecca Chapman http://www.nashvillescene.com/pitw/archives/2010/12/09/belmonts-ongoing-discrimination-problem-the-rebecca-chapman-story
· A November Washington Blade story about award-winning singer-songwriter Levi Kreis recounting discrimination as a student http://www.washingtonblade.com/2010/11/24/great-balls-of-honesty/ .
Belmont University is a private university and its board of trustees must determine which policies and practices best fit its mission, even as we hope to see policy change at this important Nashville institution. But we believe it is imperative that the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County not entangle itself in situations that may give rise to discrimination. Relationships with private entities or individuals should not compromise the principle of equal opportunity that has been reaffirmed many times by the Metropolitan Government.
We do not seek new legislation or, at this point, any alteration in the city’s relationships with Belmont. We seek clarity and accountability with respect to the city’s relationship with Belmont and its key officials.
Therefore, we request that the Metropolitan Council’s
· Convention, Tourism and Public Entertainment Facilities Committee discuss with the chairman of the Convention Center Authority, who is also chairman of the Belmont University board of trustees, whether his publicly expressed views about gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people will inhibit his ability to represent Nashville as a welcoming city in which to do business
· Personnel, Public Information, Human Relations, Housing Committee hold a hearing with the chairman of the Convention Center Authority, who is chairman of the Belmont University board of trustees, to determine whether his publicly expressed views about gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people inhibit his ability to uphold the 2009 ordinance that forbids discrimination against Convention Center Authority employees based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Questions should be raised about his awareness of and assent to the law, as well as the chairman’s role in the hiring, evaluation, promotion, and discipline of Convention Center Authority employees
· Parks, Library, and Recreation Committee determine whether the Rose Park relationship brings the risk of discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender persons in the provision of services. The space is to be used for athletics, an area of the university’s life that has received significant negative attention in the national media. The Metropolitan Government should assure the public that this important relationship will not implicate our city in further detrimental incidents.
We are grateful for your service to Nashville and we hope that you will seek information that will be valuable in assuring our fellow citizens that the Metropolitan Government is acting conscientiously to avoid any arrangement that enables discrimination.
Yours,H.G. Stovall, President
Chris Sanders, Chair, Nashville Committee
P.O. Box 330895
Nashville, TN 37203