The National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) has recognized former Belmont soccer coach Lisa Howe for her recent fight for equality. She will be honored during the organization's annual celebration in San Francisco on May 21.

The NCLR is a national legal organization committed to advancing the civil and human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and their families through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education. They commemorate their anniversary each year by presenting awards to individuals who have made a difference in the history and future of the LGBT community.

In December 2010, Howe announced that she was resigning from her post after a mutual agreement with the university. Just days prior to her departure, Howe had acknowledged her homosexuality with the team and shared that she and her partner Wendy were expecting a baby.

Howe will receive the NCLR's Justice Award. The Justice Award honors an individual who has shown the courage and perseverance to fight for justice and sacrificed to make broad social change for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community.

"This is a huge honor for me," Howe says. "To be included in an award ceremony with these three (honorees) is a privilege. I never imagined I would be recognized by the National Center for Lesbian Rights, such a well known and well respected organization that has pursued and provided justice, fairness, and legal protections for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community for over 30 years."

According to the board of directors, Howe has offered an important voice to the GLBT community on both local and national levels:

Because Lisa has stood strong in the face of ignorance and bigotry to show not only her players and students, but this country, that living authentically and loving your family knows no shame. Because she has helped to put a face on the continued need to fight for employment discrimination protections in every corner of this country. Because she has helped to transform the hearts and minds of her community and colleagues in a profound way that moved them to act on her behalf and change the non-discrimination policies at the university at which she formerly worked.

After experiencing a whirlwind six months, Howe is especially grateful for the opportunity to meet leaders who have provided a platform for her message. She expresses her appreciation for the NCLR's considerate attention to LGBT matters.

"None of this would be possible without my Nashville attorney, Abby Rubenfeld," Howe says. "She immediately reached out to the NCLR in December. The NCLR is brilliant, compassionate, and powerful. It has been a pleasure getting to work with all of them."

The awards ceremony comes just three weeks after Wendy's due date. Though Howe is unsure if the family will be able to make the trip together, she looks forward to seeing her supporters.

"I am very excited about going to San Francisco and meeting NCLR staff members and spending time with other LGBT advocates from all over the country," Howe says. "I can't wait to thank the NCLR in person for all their support of and dedication to me and my family."

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