Belmont May Change Actions Toward Gay Groups 1-24-2011 - WSMV News 4

Belmont May Change Actions Toward Gay Groups 1-24-2011

Reported by Caroline Moses
Belmont University could soon change its actions toward openly gay groups on campus.

Video: Belmont LGBT Group's Unofficial Status May Change

A gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender group on campus said its unofficial status could soon change, and it's optimistic more anti-discrimination language is on the way. Belmont's women's soccer coach, Lisa Howe, left in a cloud of controversy a few months ago right after she announced she was gay and having a baby with her partner.
Belmont -- a private, Christian-affiliated college -- hosted a discussion Monday morning about how sexuality fits in with religion. It's one of several events scheduled for this week on the topic.
Andrew Marin runs The Marin Foundation, which is a group that educates and equips people to give religious and LGBT communities experiences and relevant teachings to help each group better understand the other. He said he wants to bring the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community closer to the traditional straight society, at least in terms of a mutual understanding.
"We can find a way to bring them together to foster some type of productive conversation, dialogue that will end up a best-case scenario for both sides as much as that can happen," Marin said.
Since Howe's departure, Belmont has been under scrutiny both locally and nationally for how it handled the situation.
Robbie Maris is the president of the BridgeBuilders, an unofficial student group for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights. So far, Belmont administrators have refused to officially recognize the group.
"We've applied twice before and been denied, so I'm thinking third time is a charm," Maris said.
Maris said because of the massive attention given to how Howe left the university, talks between gay rights groups and administrators have sped up and Maris expects the BridgeBuilders to gain official recognition soon. He also thinks officials will add to their school policy a ban on discrimination based on sexual orientation.
Belmont officials are not saying for sure what they plan to do, but they have confirmed internal talks on the topic continue this week, including private meetings with Marin.
"You're going to have to deal with this very clearly, and I'm just trying to equip people to use the right tools and principles and the right medium of engagement on how to best handle their decisions," Marin said.
Marin is meeting first individually with the BridgeBuilders group, faculty and administrators. Then he plans to bring them all together later in the week to try to build a better understanding and allow them to possibly make major policy changes.

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