A Catholic school in Wisconsin has withdrawn an employment contract over the teacher’s public support for LGBTQ equality, doing so even after that teacher promised to keep such support private going forward.
The teacher, who has chosen to remain anonymous, said officials at Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic School in Monona, Wisconsin, withdrew the signed contract when they learned of an old Facebook post with rainbow colors. Referring to the teacher as “Sam,” Channel 3000 reported:
“Sam said after the contract was signed, they got a phone call from one of the staff members, asking Sam to schedule a time to meet with the pastor.
“Sam said the staff confronted them about an old Facebook photo that had Pride colors in it.
“‘They asked me about that, and I was like: “I will be honest. I do support the LGBT community.'” And what she said then: ‘That’s fine. You’ll have to take it down. We all have our own personal values,’ Sam said.”
Sam not only deleted the post and promised to keep support for equality private, but also removed a bumper sticker from her car that read “America needs nasty women” after a nun saw it and confronted the teacher. Nonetheless, a week later the priest who oversees Immaculate Heart of Mary withdrew Sam’s contract because he “wasn’t very happy with the LGBT post,” according to the teacher.
The school has defended rescinding the contract, saying in a statement that “all teachers in a Catholic school are expected to comport themselves publicly in a way that is consistent with Church moral teachings.” They suggested that there were “multiple clear indications” that Sam violated this expectation and “publicly held positions contrary to Church teachings.”
According to Channel 3000, Sam is choosing to move forward rather than fight the school. But, having been raised Catholic, Sam admitted being “kind of shocked that it’s 2019 and this is till happening, commenting:
“‘To be honest, if we’re looking really into the Catholic Church, the Pope has defended the LGBT community. . .You can still hold certain values and be part of the Catholic faith and the Catholic community.'”
Sam becomes one of the more than 80 church workers who have lost their jobs in LGBTQ-related employment disputes over the last decade. It is notable that unlike many of these employment disputes which focus on the church worker’s identity or marital status, Sam was punished for a singular Facebook post that simply expressed support for LGBTQ people. For a full listing of employment disputes, including others like Sam’s where identity or marital status were not the issue, click here. For more information on Catholic LGBTQ employment issues, click here.
This academic year should never have begun with a discriminatory firing because a new employee believes in the dignity of every person. It is especially disturbing since the Immaculate Heart of Mary school and affiliated parish launched a “Teach Love” campaign earlier this year to carry out 10,000 acts of kindness. Per the school’s website, the campaign is “a beacon of light to spread the message that as long as there is love and kindness in the world, hate will never win.” It intends to form students in practicing love long after they graduate. But in withdrawing Sam’s contract, the pastor and school officials taught another lesson that may stick with students a long while: the institutional church remains committed to exclusion, which is the very opposite of love.
—Robert Shine, New Ways Ministry, August 23, 2019