Students at a Catholic high school in Ohio have rallied around a longtime teacher after learning she was fired when her female partner’s name appeared in an obituary in the local newspaper.
Carla Hale, a physical education teacher at Bishop Watterson High School, returned to work last month after her mother’s death. Administrators handed Hale an anonymous letter written to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Columbus by a parent appalled that Hale’s partner, Julie, was listed among the survivors in the obituary, according to the Columbus Dispatch. Several weeks later, Hale was dismissed.
As news spread of the firing last week, a petition was posted on change.org calling for the Diocese of Columbus to reinstate Hale. About 40,000 signatures had been gathered this morning calling for Hale’s reinstatement.
The petition reads in part:
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.
A contract between the Columbus diocese and the Central Ohio Association of Catholic Educators states that teachers can be terminated for “immorality” or “serious unethical conduct,” according to the Dispatch. The Catholic Church considers sex between members of the same gender harmful and wrong, but urges kindness, compassion and sensitivity toward people with same-sex attractions.
Hale, who taught at Watterson for 19 years, has filed a grievance under the terms of the contract. Hale, a practicing Methodist, said she also hopes the reaction to her dismissal spurs Catholic leaders to reconsider their stance on gay relationships. Hale said she has been in awe of the love and support she has received from her students and friends.
To sign the petition on Hale’s behalf, go to: http://www.change.org/petitions/diocese-of-columbus-reinstate-faculty-member-carla-hale.