For challenging a priest who made anti-LGBTQ comments, a church worker has been fired in Austin, Texas.
Ashlie Langlinais was terminated as the head women’s basketball coach at St. Dominic Savio High School recently over her LGBTQ advocacy, according to the National Catholic Reporter:
“St. Dominic Savio Principal Enrique Garcia gave no explanation when he initially notified Langlinais by email that her employment had ended. When she reached out asking why she was fired, he responded according to an email obtained by NCR, ‘it is because of the very manner that you are making demands of a neighboring diocese and it’s [sic] bishop with respect to one of his priests that we will not be able to ask you back. This is not how we interact with your fellow diocese and bishops.'”
The demands referenced relate to a petition started by Langlinais that called for Fr. Andre Metrejean to be removed as pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes Church, Erath, over his Facebook post that criticized the New Orleans Saints’ decision to light their stadium in rainbow colors for Pride. That church was Langlinais’ home parish growing up, though she has since left the church. NCR reported further:
“Langlinais, who is married to a woman, said she reached out privately to Lafayette’s Bishop J. Douglas Deshotel before creating the petition. Deshotel gave KLFY news a response, citing the catechism’s teaching on people with ‘homosexual tendencies,’ namely: ‘They must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity.’
“But Deshotel’s lack of action to adequately address Metrejean’s behavior, as Langlinais put it, prompted her to seek public support by creating a petition with the assistance of Faithful America, a national online Christian group centered around social justice. The Faithful America petition has now gained more than 12,000 signatures. The petition’s text also mentions an alleged racist remark by Metrejean as another reason he should be removed after he allegedly told an Erath resident his church did not need to worry about COVID-19 because ‘the virus only affects Black people.'”
After being fired, Langlinais continued her advocacy, launching a second Faithful America petition to the bishop of her current diocese in Austin, Joe Vásquez, that calls for an end to LGBTQ-related church worker firings. That petition has nearly 12,000 views. Langlinais explained to NCR about why she is pushing church leaders on questions of LGBTQ inclusion:
“‘As a gay person who grew up in that community, my motivation has always been thinking of those kids that still live there, that don’t really have a choice of what religion they want to follow, that are taken to that church by their parents, and see these types of things said. It’s just dangerous rhetoric, and it hurts kids, it hurts families. So my motivation to speak up has been for them, to be their voice. . .
“‘My advice to [students] would be to speak up, to advocate for yourself. And I feel like if I’m going to give that advice to one of my athletes, that in order not to be hypocritical and to lead by example, I had to do the same thing in my life.'”
The firing of Langlinais has prompted wider conversations about the way LGBTQ issues are approached at St. Dominic Savio. Alumnae who played basketball at the school have spoken out, including Nani Zapata who called the school’s environment “sexist, homophobic, and single minded.”
By firing Langlinais, church officials are proving the very point she and other LGBTQ advocates have challenged: that anti-LGBTQ speech is tolerated, while any attempts to seek welcome and justice for LGBTQ people is to be suppressed. In doing so, church leaders defy canon law: Canon 212 §3 mandates that the lay faithful:
“According to the knowledge, competence, and prestige which they possess, they have the right and even at times the duty to manifest to the sacred pastors their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church and to make their opinion known to the rest of the Christian faithful. . .”
Langlinais, LGBTQ advocates, and Catholics all need to keep making their opinions known to the church’s pastors, for indeed, the petitioners ultimately do so not only for LGBTQ people and church workers, but for the good of the church itself.
—Robert Shine, New Ways Ministry, August 21, 2020