Metro Weekly

Gay Massachusetts man suing Catholic school over firing

Matthew Barrett and his attorney allege Fontbonne Academy engaged in sex discrimination

Fontbonne Academy (Photo: Fontbonne Academy).
Fontbonne Academy (Photo: Fontbonne Academy).

Arguments were heard in Norfolk Superior Court on Tuesday in the case of a Massachusetts gay man who is suing a Catholic all-girls school for sex discrimination.

Matthew Barrett, of Dorchester, says he was offered and accepted the position of food services director at Fontbonne Academy in Milton, Mass., in July 2013. But he says after it fired him from his job in the school kitchen when administrators found out he was married to a man, The Boston Herald reports.

As part of the new-hire paperwork, Barrett was asked to list an emergency contact and his relationship to that person, so he listed Ed Suplee as his husband. But two days later, the head of the school fired him due to Catholic teaching opposing homosexuality and same-sex marriage.

John Bagley, the attorney for Fontbonne Academy, says that the school is legally permitted to discriminate on the basis of hiring under religious exemptions that were provided to religiously-affiliated entities when the Bay State passed its LGBT nondiscrimination law.

According to Bagley, the head of the school met with Barrett and told him he would be “modeling the faith,” asking him, “Can you buy into that?” Bagley also insisted that there were “many occasions” that would involve Mr. Barrett inviting his spouse to various functions.

But Barrett and his attorneys argue that the discrimination should not be allowed, as Barrett was applying for a kitchen job, not a job where he would have contact with or say over the curriculum taught to the students at Fontbonne Academy. 

“I wasn’t there to send a message, to teach them how to be married to the same sex,” Barrett said. “It wasn’t about that. I’d be cooking. That’s it.”

His attorney, Bennett Klein, argues that the case is one of clear-cut sex discrimination, saying, “If his spouse had been a woman instead of a man, Matt would have been hired.

“Certain religiously affiliated employers are responding to marriage equality by attempting to improperly extend the reach of exemptions from obeying nondiscrimination laws that are a backbone of our society,” adds Klein.

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