It’s not news when a Catholic school fires someone for being in a same-sex relationship. It happens all the time. They have the right to be bigots in the name of God. But that doesn’t mean anyone ought to just accept it as normal behavior. Every Catholic school leader and priest should constantly be put on the defensive, having to explain why they oppose same-sex relationships, and they should get used to being demonized as a result.
That’s why I appreciate what Lauren White did. She was a teacher at Sacred Heart-Griffin High School in Springfield, Illinois… for all of a couple of hours. She was hired as a French teacher, signed the contract, and then “had the job offer revoked in the same day.” That’s because the principal, making small talk, casually asked her about the fiancée she mentioned during the interview. When she asked White where “he” was from, White corrected her… and just like that she was out of a job.
She told the story on Facebook:
… I knew from the look on her face that this wasn’t going to end well. We said goodbye pleasantly enough and unsurprisingly I got a call not even 10 minutes later from the president of the high school. She asked me some very personal questions about my life and relationship and then told me she would need more time to consider this and that she was glad she found out before I started so they wouldn’t have to fire me for this later. A few hours later she called me and told me they could no longer offer me the job.
White goes on to talk about how she thought this might be an issue but she applied for the job, anyway. She also notes that people close to her felt this was illegal. While she knows better now, she was unbelievably naïve on both counts.
Of course being in a same-sex relationship is a problem for the Catholic Church.
Of course they can fire you for it. It doesn’t matter if you’re teaching French and not theology; they could fire a janitor in a same-sex relationship, too.
This is the Catholic Church: They’re never going to prioritize quality teaching over promoting anti-LGBTQ hate.
What did White expect? That this Catholic school would be different from every other Catholic institution in the world?
I’ll admit I rolled my eyes reading her post because she seems surprised by the least surprising thing about the Church. But I’ll give White credit for this: She’s going public with her story just to make sure students and parents are aware of what she’s only now realizing. That’s huge. Many students and parents are just as oblivious about the Church’s animosity against LGBTQ people, and it’s stories like these that will ultimately help them realize the sort of organization they’re giving their money to.
… Mostly, I feel bad for the students. They are why I’m writing this. They deserve to know that the school where the mission statement declares itself as “welcoming a diverse population” refuses to employ lgbt+ individuals even when it means those individuals would be the best choice for the classroom. SHG’s principal claims that students struggling with, or embracing their gender identities will be supported, but refuses to hire positive role models for those students and instead shows blatant bigotry in their hiring process.
While the government may allow SHG to get away with this violation of human rights, I believe that students, parents, and community members should be made aware of this decision and how it impacts the education of SHG students.
I would correct White on two points: Catholic schools can and do hire LGBTQ people… as long as they’re celibate and single. (Lesbians in love are out of luck.)
Also, this school isn’t unique. It’s the entire Church that’s the issue. White should be furious at Catholicism, not this one school that operates under Catholic rules.
The good news is that the school has received all sorts of bad press ever since White made that post. The school tried to argue this hurt them more than it hurt White: “We recognize the difficulty of this situation and see this as a complex issue.” (No they don’t and no they don’t.)
The Diocese of Springfield didn’t bother with the niceties. Their response? Yeah, we’re dicks. Get used to it.
All teachers in Catholic schools are ministers of the Catholic faith. As such, they sign a contract to publicly uphold Catholic church teaching. While personnel decisions at SHG are the responsibility of the school administration, SHG made the right decision.
Any parents who send their kids to SHG are supporting this bigotry. Maybe they have other reasons for sending their kids to the school, but when they pay tuition, they’re sending a message that the Church’s anti-LGBTQ beliefs aren’t enough of a deterrent for them.
It’s the same reason we should always blame (~80% of) white evangelical Christians for Donald Trump‘s racism. It doesn’t matter how often they tell you they’re not personally racist, or that they just wanted him to nominate anti-abortion judges; Trump’s open bigotry never bothered them enough to vote for someone else. That’s a tacit endorsement of his beliefs no matter how much they say otherwise.
Parents who send their kids to schools like SHG are siding with the bigots instead of with teachers like White. They should be ashamed of themselves.