Post submitted by Paul Guequierre, HRC Deputy Communications Director
As support for LGBT equality continues to grow, particularly among Catholics, the Cincinnati Archdiocese is enacting draconian restrictions on Catholic school employees. The “morality clause” of the new contract for the 2014-2015 school year takes anti-LGBT discrimination to a new level, calling not only for the firing of gay and lesbian school employees, but also citing any support of the “homosexual lifestyle” as grounds for dismissal.
HRC is calling on Diocese leaders to model Christian values and not discriminate against LGBT teachers or straight allies in their employment practices.
“At a time when Pope Francis is talking about support of civil unions, the Cincinnati Archdiocese, in a throwback to past times, is talking about firing gay and lesbian teachers and silencing their straight supporters. This isn’t in keeping with the olive branch Pope Francis has extended to LGBT people around the world, but even more importantly, it’s not in keeping with the living message of God’s love of all people,” said Dr. Sharon Groves, director of the HRC Religion and Faith Program. “The majority of Catholics and people of faith believe LGBT people deserve dignity, respect, and equal protections under the law, and at the same time leaders of the Cincinnati Diocese are determined to weed out supporters of LGBT equality. This must stop.”
Recent polling found that 86 percent of Christians believed the very tenets of their faith compelled them to support protections for LGBT people under the law and 59 percent of lay Catholics support marriage equality.
The new contract also prohibits membership in an LGBT equality organization, such as the Human Rights Campaign. Creating a safe space for LGBT young people, by placing a friendly sticker on your door for example, could be grounds for dismissal.
Teachers will be required to sign a contract which includes the following section, according to WCPO-TV:
“Such conduct or lifestyle that is in contradiction to Catholic doctrine or morals includes, but is not limited to, improper use of social media/communication, public support of or publicly living together outside marriage, public support of or sexual activity out of wedlock, public support of or homosexual lifestyle, public support of or use of abortion, public support of or use of surrogate mother, public support of or use of in vitro fertilization or artificial insemination, public membership in organization whose mission and message are incompatible with Catholic doctrine or morals, and/or flagrant deceit or dishonesty.”
This new contract comes in the wake of a wave of firings of LGBT teachers and administrators at Catholic schools that have swept the country over the past two years. According to the Cincinnati Enquirer, in Cincinnati alone, recent Archdiocese firings, suspensions, dismissals for clashing with church teaching include:
- In 2009 a nun was suspended by the Archdiocese for publicly supporting the ordination of women priests.
- Later that year a volunteer religion education teacher was dismissed after her letter to The Enquirer in support of the suspended nun was published.
- In 2010 the Cincinnati Archdiocese fired an unmarried teacher who became pregnant by artificial insemination. A federal court ruled in 2013 in her favor, ordering the Archdiocese to pay her $171,000 for her improper firing.
- In 2013, an assistant principal at Purcell Marian High School was fired for writing on his public blog his support of gay marriage.
“These teachers have pedagogical callings and are not ministers of the cloth. We call on the Archdiocese to demonstrate true Christian beliefs and end this discriminatory policy,” added Groves.