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View Diary: 11-year Catholic school teacher fired over support for marriage equality (93 comments)

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  •  Why would she want to stay? (6+ / 0-)

    A large part of the job of a Catholic school teacher is conveying the principles the Catholic Church wants conveyed,  Why would anybody want to be in a position of teaching children that they must adhere to, and practice, principles you oppose?

    •  I don't know. (11+ / 0-)

      Maybe she's Catholic herself, even though she disagrees on this issue (as many, many Catholics do). Whatever her reason for staying, I doubt the marriage equality issue was very likely to come up in her fifth-grade classroom.

      Homosexuality is found in over 450 species. Homophobia is found in only one. Which one seems unnatural now?

      by Chrislove on Mon Jun 11, 2012 at 06:22:35 PM PDT

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      •  I know several gay catholics (9+ / 0-)

        that are fairly active in their faith.  I don't know how they do it.  I have personally lost most of my least for now.

        One can never consent to creep when one feels an impulse to soar.

        by The Nephew on Mon Jun 11, 2012 at 06:27:03 PM PDT

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        •  Me too (8+ / 0-)

          The gay Catholics I know are very, very Catholic. I can understand holding most of the Catholic beliefs as a gay person, but it must be very difficult when your Church hierarchy doesn't support you.

          Homosexuality is found in over 450 species. Homophobia is found in only one. Which one seems unnatural now?

          by Chrislove on Mon Jun 11, 2012 at 06:28:41 PM PDT

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          •  Chris - many priests are gay (5+ / 0-)

            and have taken a vow of celibacy. This was even more common before gays were openly accepted in our society.

            Prior to the 1980s gay boys in strict Catholic families had three choices. To live in the closet and be the bachelor uncle who always had roommates, but never girlfriends. To come out of the closet and be shunned by your entire family. Or to be the favorite child, the son your parents revere, the one who gives his life to God, my son the priest.  Is it surprising how many took option three?

            "let's talk about that"

            by VClib on Mon Jun 11, 2012 at 07:48:30 PM PDT

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          •  My godfather (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            LSophia, Chrislove, wasatch, gramofsam1

            was a very devout Catholic and ushered at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City.  I attended his funeral there in the late 90s.

            My godfather and my uncle lived together for close to fifty years, and right after I came out to my family, I asked my mom if she thought Uncle Pete and Uncle Bob were gay (in my family, all my parent's close friends were Uncle or Aunt).  My mom said she wasn't sure.

            Well, soon after that, I came out to Bob, and he confirmed the answer I suspected, but he also asked me not to talk about it to Pete.  I guess it had to do with the period of time that he grew up in (they were both born in the 20s) and the Catholic beliefs with which he was raised.  (I remember how upset he get when Act Up would protest at St. Pat's).

            At his wake, about 30 people attended at their apartment on the Upper East Side; the only women who attended were his sister, my mother and my brother's fiance (my uncle was my brother's godfather).  The men who attended (other than me and my brother) were all about the same age as Bob and Pete and I (unfortunately) had visions of "Boys in the Band" when observing them.

            It is sad to see, even in New York City, in the late 90s, this dichotomy between who a person is, and who a person is supposed to be, especially when that person has a strong faith.  But, I also undersand, in part, what it was like to be a young to middle-aged gay man in the '40's, '50s and '60s.

            It's about time I changed my signature.

            by Khun David on Mon Jun 11, 2012 at 09:20:44 PM PDT

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        •  I was not raised in a religious family, (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Chrislove, blw

          but I can't help thinking (if there is a God, that is...) that He is quite disappointed in followers who seem to be using the Bible to justify hatred.  This can't be what God had in mind...

      •  this is more than just being catholic. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        The Nephew, VClib

        it would be her job to impart those principles to children.  If asked about pre marItal sex, it would be her job to say that was wrong and sinful.  If I asked about same sex relatIonshIps,  like two men or two women together, it would be her job to say that was wrong and sinful.  Why Would she or anyone think they can do a great job instructing children that those children must adhere to principles that they themselves reject?

        •  Well, I don't know (4+ / 0-)

          I can't say what her motivations were. I do know people who teach at Catholic schools, though, who don't toe the Vatican line. In some cases, it's a matter of what jobs are available. My purpose was just to comment on this particular act of discrimination.

          Homosexuality is found in over 450 species. Homophobia is found in only one. Which one seems unnatural now?

          by Chrislove on Mon Jun 11, 2012 at 07:28:57 PM PDT

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        •  not everyone teaches theology (0+ / 0-)

          There are teachers of math, science, English, history, art, music, maybe some foreign language. If someone has the skills to teach those subjects, and a Catholic school is hiring, why would they expect to be dealing with such questions on anything like a regular basis?

          48forEastAfrica - Donate to Oxfam If you can't feed a hundred people, then just feed one. - Mother Teresa

          by wasatch on Mon Jun 11, 2012 at 10:22:55 PM PDT

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          •  Three points. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            1. The "strictly subject" teachers -- not so much in an elementary school.   That's an easier argument to make in a high school -- a Catholic high school here that I know has a Muslim SCIENCE teacher.  She dresses in a way that is traditionally Muslim, and the students know she is Muslim, so she is not expected to discuss religion -- but she cannot say anything to UNDERMINE Catholic teachings.

            2.  If you are teaching English, history, art, music, etc. -- anything that touches the world around us today -- what does the teacher say when a child says something about a same sex relationship in those contexts?  What does a teacher say if one of the children in the classroom has relatives in a same-sex relationship, and mentions that?  For a teacher in a Catholic elementary school, the required answer (as far as the school is concerned) is "that is wrong and sinful."  Would this woman be comfortable saying that, and explaining WHY it is "wrong and sinful" if she doesn't believe that?  If not, she cannot do the job expected of her at that school.

            3.  You must not be familiar with Catholic elementary schools.  Every teacher is expected to promote Catholic teachings "on a regular basis."  There are prayers throughout the day.  Religious views are a constant part of any Catholic school.  

            •  I went to Catholic schools (0+ / 0-)

              from 2nd grade through high school in the 60's & 70's. Catholicism was an assumption growing up. Even in Texas, other than one Presbyterian family and my Jewish uncle's family, everyone I knew was Catholic until I went to college.

              We had some specific subject teachers by 5th grade.

              Times have changed a lot since then, as sex/sexuality didn't come up in any class until a freshman health class, sophomore biology, and a required senior theology quarter  on marriage, which itself barely touched on sex, other than a film on childbirth, but heterosexuality was assumed, which would be more likely to be openly questioned now. What I remember more is the lessons on family finances and the impact that has on marriage stability, and issues like commitment and compromise.

              Oh, and in grade school, I remember when we all had to make pro-life posters, which were mostly images of roses. No sex ed in grade school. It was assumed that parents or high school would address that.

              In general, social and economic justice was bigger in the church those days than the overwhelming focus on sex/sexuality that we see today. LGBTs were more invisible and less accepted in society, so it was much easier for teachers to get away with not even mentioning their existence. Also, some of us kids were generally less precocious on matters of sex and sexuality. Now I wonder who among my classmates may have been gay; odds are that some number were. The closets were more full everywhere in those years. I don't know any kids in Catholic schools in the last 30+ years, so I don't know what it's like now, when LGBT's are more visible and more accepted in the culture.

              In high school health class,  I think sex ed was basically just some mechanical facts about reproduction and menstruation, and touting the effectiveness of abstinence. My memory is that the subject of contraception was indeed hanging in the air, but I don't remember if anyone raised the question. Wasn't much on my radar at the time. I'm pretty sure that homosexuality was never discussed AT ALL, and that would be much more likely to come up now.

              A good friend who worked at a Catholic high school was a favorite person for students to confide their problems to, and she confirmed years ago that the number of abortions arising from girls being properly Catholic and unprepared regarding contraception was steady. (Sigh) Some kept the baby and left school, as did one girl in my class. I'd guess that any LGBTs stay closeted. Hmmm....

              Mostly, people were still trying to figure out the meaning of Vatican II, so in elementary school, theology classes were mushy and lacking much substance, but that was partly an age-appropriate thing too.  Light on doctrine, heavy on "God is love", no mention of sexuality (which I admit would be more likely to come up nowadays). There was catechism (and CCD for public school students) in 1st (2nd?) grade before first Confession and First Communion, but it was taught at a level for 6-7 year olds, of course. A little more substance for Confirmation prep in 8th grade, but not a lot, still no mention of sex. Mostly I remember how scandalous it was that a brave and independent-minded friend refused to be confirmed, as she didn't believe anymore. Mass on Holy Days and first Friday of each month. Prayers delivered over the PA with morning announcements. No prayers the rest of the day, in elementary or high school. But we did have to take religion/theology classes.
              I do remember my older sister being taught about alpha brain waves and meditation in 7th or 8th grade religion class, which mostly just made the kids giggle.

              You are right that a kid with same-gendered parents or awareness of their own or another's non-heterosexuality would be awkward for a teacher in a Catholic school. Although, if the school admitted a student with same-gendered parents, I would assume that the school was not going to push that the kid's parents were evil.

              And yes, elementary school is different from high school. More theological substance, less Masses. In either, given the heavy focus on sex/sexuality in today's church, it wouldn't surprise me if these issues are pushed more these days in the schools.

              I'm wondering if a policy of teachers referring doctrinal questions to the priests or theology teachers could be workable... probably not, because as you say, the parochial school environment is more like a full-immersion experience, even though there are not religion classes all day.  I suppose you could phrase things as "The Catholic Church teaches X" and leave it at that, but when one doesn't believe X, it sure wouldn't feel right (and the kids might spot the dodge and confront it), especially if a kid came to you and told you they were gay, in which case, telling them they were evil would be unconscionable; telling them the Church teaching was wrong could get you fired.

              This is way too long a comment, but my general feeling is that a subject teacher might be able to navigate parochial school unless/until students raised the issue directly. But in this case, the students didn't raise the issue. The administration pre-interrogated. In high school, a subject teacher would be in a safer position, but the kids would be more likely to raise the issue.

              In this particular case, after 11 years of successful teaching, the administration's actions to prevent a problem that had not occurred in all that time is wrong-headed, IMO. Another symptom of the bishops' insistence on a relentless focus on ses/sexuality beyond reason.

              Yikes, sorry for the length.

              48forEastAfrica - Donate to Oxfam If you can't feed a hundred people, then just feed one. - Mother Teresa

              by wasatch on Tue Jun 12, 2012 at 10:37:38 AM PDT

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    •  The new strictures are novel. (9+ / 0-)

      The Catholic Church is cracking down.  What was once tolerated is now forbidden.  Minnesota's bishops are cracking down harder than most.

      Also, the rest of society is liberalizing.  In 2001, it may not have occurred to most Minnesotans that something like marriage between two people of the same sex was possible, or even speakable.

      One possibility could be that the RCC did not bother to ask questions about what the teachers believed, provided that they taught the right thing.  Further, it's pretty safe to say that any mention of homosexuality in a fifth-grade class would be unthinkable in that area, even in a public school.  This degree of control is an innovation (and not in a good sense)

      Another possibility could be that the teacher was in honest, sincere agreement with the RCC position on same-sex marriage in 2001.  Her mind could have changed over the last eleven years and what was agreeable to her conscience then is no longer agreeable now.

      There's also the fact that teaching jobs are few and far between these days, and sometimes the Catholic Church's certification requirements for teachers are not as strict as those of the state.  

      "Politics should be the part-time profession of every citizen who would protect the rights and privileges of free people and who would preserve what is good and fruitful in our national heritage." -- Lucille Ball

      by Yamaneko2 on Mon Jun 11, 2012 at 07:08:42 PM PDT

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    •  Maybe it's the only place in town (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Chrislove, gramofsam1, wasatch

      that has a drama program?  Maybe she loves her students and loves teaching?  Moorhead, Minnesota is not exactly an enormous metropolis.  Opportunities there are bound to be somewhat limited.

      The RC church used to have an "official party line," but wasn't always overly zealous at enforcing it.  Now, sadly, it would appear that its has lost its tolerance for ambiguity and differences of opinion.

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