- September 21, 2015
Post submitted by Jane Coaston, former HRC Writer
After attending the school as a child, Michael Griffin taught Spanish and French at Holy Ghost Preparatory School for more than 12 years. “I really knew the school,” he said. "It was a community." Fellow teachers and administrators knew Michael was gay. A school administrator had even attended his civil union commitment ceremony. So when he told his supervisor that he would be out one morning to apply for a marriage license, he didn’t expect any problems.
When he returned to school, he was told to meet with the principal, who directed him into the school president’s office. "It’s not a secret that you’re gay," the president said, but he then told Michael that he couldn’t marry his partner and remain employed at Holy Ghost. He wasn’t even allowed to tell his students about his firing himself - the school released a statement instead.
The school community rallied around Michael, starting a Facebook group that eventually had more than 2,000 members in protest of Michael’s firing. But the school said that because his contract required Michael to abide by Church teachings, they had to terminate his position immediately.
"I thought my school was different," Michael said. "It was private, and they really accepted me here." Michael noted that other teachers were divorced, while others were non-Catholics, and yet those teachers were permitted to remain at the school. He also said that the hurtful message sent by his firing led to two teachers and several families leaving the school.
Michael will be starting this school year at a public school, but is still confused by his alma mater’s decision. “I had no sense it would happen,” Michael said. “It was very surreal.”
In anticipation of the historic visit of Pope Francis to the U.S., HRC is highlighting the stories of teachers and staff fired from Catholic institutions because of whom they love, and asking the pontiff to embrace the LGBT faithful. The Human Rights Campaign will welcome Pope Francis with a plea to bridge the gap between acceptance in the pews and rejection by bishops. New HRC polling shows overwhelming support among U.S. Catholics for LGBT equality, yet repudiation of the faithful persists in churches, schools and institutions. Learn more about LGBT Catholics at www.hrc.org/Catholic