A Columbus, Ohio high school Physical Education teacher is out of a job because of information in her mother’s obituary. When Carla Hale’s mother died, the obituary included the name of Hale’s same-sex partner, Julie. An anonymous parent got wind of this information and wrote to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Columbus, appalled that Hale had listed her female partner’s name in an obituary.
After returning to work after her mother’s death, the school administrator showed Hale the letter, and within weeks she was fired from her job, after 19 years of service.
Students and supporters of Hale started a petition on change.org in order to get Hale’s employment reinstated. So far it has over 9,000 signatures:
Discrimination is something that people have fought for generations. The most prominent form of discrimination in today’s society is discrimination on the basis of sexuality. Carla Hale, a beloved teacher at Bishop Watterson High School, was fired because of her sexuality. She was a teacher who cared for her students and treated each one with respect. The school, however, did not reciprocate that respect in its treatment of her. Discrimination and injustice is something that we all have a duty to fight in today’s society. It’s unfair that someone who cared so much about her students and her job should lose them on the basis of something she cannot even control. The school claims its mission is to teach its students about love, acceptance, and tolerance, and yet it did none of this in the way it treated Ms. Hale. That is why we all have to stand up together and let it be known that this decision is unacceptable. If we do not fight this issue now, it will happen again, and that is not something we can allow. When we allow injustice to go unnoticed and unpunished, we all are hurt. We have an obligation to Ms. Hale and ourselves to make sure the school hears us and decides to overturn its decision
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.”
Many of Hale’s supporters are blatantly calling out the double standard that exists in the Roman Catholic Diocese.
“I can understand their opinion on homosexuality when it comes to that issue, but we’re seeing a woman reprimanded for this but you don’t see any reprimand when a teacher gets divorced which the Catholic Church is against. You don’t see them asking in their private life use birth control or one of those heightened matters” says Mike Liggett, one of Hale’s supporters. Liggett is a Watterson alumni who is now a student at The Ohio State University.
“She was a woman of great integrity I only had her for one year at Watterson but was involved with her in other activities, she had the most integrity of staff that worked there, she treated students justly and fairly,” he said.
The diocese claims it’s a personnel matter and refuses to comment.
Hale has filed a grievance under the terms of her labor contract, seeking reinstatement, and is considering other legal options, her attorney said. There is also a possibility that the high school is breaking the law. The Catholic High School is located within the City of Columbus, which has an ordinance on the books making it illegal to deny someone employment based on, among many factors, sexual orientation.
The question for the courts will be if Bishop Watterson, being a religious institution, is exempt from the law.
Clutchettes, do you think the teacher should have been terminated?