Bishop Watterson, a Catholic High School in Clintonville, Ohio, has students and other supporters rallying around Carla Hale, a physical education teacher who was fired by the school after an anonymous parent informed them that her partner’s name had appeared in her mother’s obituary.
The Columbus Dispatch reports:
According to a contract between the Columbus diocese and the Central Ohio Association of Catholic Educators, teachers can be terminated for “immorality” or “serious unethical conduct.” George Jones, a spokesman for the diocese, had no comment yesterday, saying personnel matters are confidential.
Hale, a physical-education teacher who taught at Watterson for 19 years, said she has filed a grievance under the terms of the contract, seeking her job back. Her attorney, Thomas Tootle, said they are exploring other legal options.
Hale, a practicing Methodist, said she also hopes the reaction to her dismissal spurs Catholic leaders to reconsider their stance on gay relationships.
Hale did not discuss her sexual orientation or her partner with students or teachers. No charges were filed saying she ever demonstrated anything but a professional manner in her work. A Change.org petition to reinstate her now has more than 10,000 signatures.
The Dispatch adds that Hale’s firing may violate city law:
The firing of a gay physical-education teacher from a Columbus Catholic high school would be a violation of a city ordinance if a complaint were filed and investigators determined the dismissal was based on her sexual orientation…A Columbus city ordinance makes it a misdemeanor for an employer to discriminate against an employee based on sexual orientation. City law also states that an employer cannot have a policy that discriminates based on sexual orientation. Those who are found guilty could face up to 180 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.
Students have left testimonies in support of Hale.
Wrote Amanda Lux:
When I was a student at Bishop Watterson, we were always taught to treat others with dignity and compassion. As an alumni, I still credit Bishop Watterson with shaping me into the person I am today — both morally and ethically. I am deeply saddened to learn that, in spite of what Watterson taught me about respect for all humanity, a longstanding and well-respected faculty member was treated so unfairly. Ms. Hale has always been an excellent coach and teacher. Her sexual orientation and lifestyle choices have no bearing on her capacity to educate her students and should NOT be grounds for termination of employment.
Wrote Lauren Bogenrief:
Bishop Watterson demands that we all treat each other with equality and respect. I hope they see that their students are standing up for the morally right thing, not to just rebel against the school. Carla Hale is a child of God and equal in his eyes to all of us. Bishop Watterson needs to recognize that.