A gay teacher at a Dayton-area Catholic high school has been informed that their contract for next year will not be renewed after someone effectively outed them to the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, which oversees the school.
Officials with the archdiocese made the decision not to renew the teacher’s contract after an unknown person sent a “concern” about the teacher to the office of Archbishop Dennis Schnurr, according to Lourdes Lambert, the principal of Archbishop Alter High School in Kettering, Ohio, where the teacher is currently employed.
Lambert said she was not told who the concern came from, but confirmed it had nothing to do with any incident between the teacher and students at Alter, reports the Dayton Daily News. Lambert said the teacher is an Alter graduate who has taught at the school for more than 20 years, and will be permitted to finish out this current school year, when students are learning virtually from home.
“It’s a very unfortunate circumstance for the teacher and the Alter community,” she said. “[But] Some things are taken out of our hands as an Archdiocese-owned school.”
The teacher, whose name has not been made public, has declined to comment on the situation.
Teachers who work for schools in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati sign an annual “teacher-minister” contract that includes an agreement to refrain from conduct that is “in contradiction to Catholic social doctrine or morals.” Examples of such behavior include, but are not limited to, “cohabitation outside marriage, sexual activity out of wedlock and same-sex sexual activity.” The contract also says promoting such conduct as acceptable is a violation.
Several Alter High School alumni and supporters of the teacher argued against the decision on social media, with at least one person writing that she would stop donating to the school. Others praised the teacher, with a supporter saying the teacher displayed “Jesus’ teachings of love and acceptance, reports the Daily News.
In response to those comments, the school posted — and then took down — a statement defending its position, saying the school must “adhere to Archdiocesan policy.”
Former student David Beck later wrote in a Facebook post that the teacher had taught him eleventh grade honors English and had been outed after someone sent a copy of his marriage license to the archbishop. The teacher has been married since 2016 — one year after the U.S. Supreme Court legalized marriage equality nationwide.
“I attended catholic school for 13 years…and I can attest that Jesus would not approve of Alter High School or the Archdiocese’s treatment” of the teacher, Beck wrote. “On the contrary, Jesus embraced everyone and only taught love. … I almost thought that we were evolving beyond such drama, but unfortunately that is not the case.”
Jennifer Schack, a spokeswoman for the archdiocese, said the church “values all of our teachers,” but also noted that Catholic school teachers are expected to be “witnesses to the teaching of the Catholic Church in both word and deed,” as outlined in the teacher-minister contracts.
Alter is the latest Catholic school to become mired in the debate over whether openly LGBTQ teachers should be allowed to teach at religiously-affiliated schools. Earlier this year, a Seattle-area Catholic school was protested by students and community members for allegedly pressuring a gay and a lesbian teacher to resign after they became engaged to their significant others.
The Archdiocese of Indianapolis was beset by controversies last year after three gay or lesbian teachers were fired from two different schools, and the archdiocese revoked a third school’s status as a “Catholic” institution after the school refused to fire a fourth openly gay teacher. The archdiocese then went a step farther and fired a straight teacher who attempted to defend two of her gay colleagues who had been fired.
Official Catholic teaching is that homosexual acts constitute “acts of grave depravity” and are not to be condoned. Instead, However, Catholic social teaching, particularly under Pope Francis, has been to say that people with “homosexual tendencies” should not be discriminated against and should be treated with dignity, although practicing Catholics who are gay are expected to live a life of chastity.
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