Principal: Firing of Gay Teacher was Justified
Updated: Friday, April 26 2013, 05:12 PM EDT
COLUMBUS -- A central Ohio principal says school officials were justified in firing a gay teacher who listed her partner as her spouse in an obituary.
Former Bishop Watterson High School phys-ed teacher Carla Hale met with Principal Marian Hutson on Wednesday to discuss her recent firing. The meeting was the first step in the grievance process her lawyer filed against the school.
Hale was fired from Bishop Watterson a week after the public posting of her mother's obituary, which listed Hale's female partner as her spouse.
In a written response to the grievance, Hutson wrote, "Documents support termination. You were not terminated for being gay, but for the spousal relationship publicized in the newspaper which is against church teachings."
Hale was fired a week after the obituary was brought to the attention of the Diocese of Columbus. In the termination letter, Hale is told, "Your written spousal relationship violates the moral laws of the Catholic Church."
The Diocese was alerted to the obituary via an anonymous letter that expressed outrage over Hale's employment.
"I was shocked by what I saw," the letter read. "It had her teacher's name and that of her 'spouse' listed. It was two females. "How can the Diocese of Columbus allow this?"
In response to the Hale's firing, the former teacher's supporters created an online petition, calling for her reinstatement. As of mid-April, the petition had garnered more than 7000 signatures.
Hale said she is overwhelmed by the support of Bishop Watterson students, alumni, and friends, along with people she's never met. She said she's received several calls, letters, and emails from those supporting her effort to return to her position.
The mother of three is also receiving strong support from her children, two of whom have followed her into the teaching profession.
Contrary to the opinions of some community members, Hale insists she never intentionally hid her sexual orientation from the public, but admits she does prefer to keep the details of her personal life private.
Despite her firing, Hale said she hopes to return to Bishop Watterson to resume her career, though she said she does not believe the grievance process will result in her reinstatement.
Hale's layer, Thomas Tootle, said he may file a lawsuit if his client is not allowed to return to her job.
Hale's battle against the school she loves is garnering national attention, which comes as a surprise to the former teacher. She said she hopes the love and support she's receiving will serve as an inspiration to young people who are questioning their sexuality for the first time.
The Catholic Diocese of Columbus sent the following statement to ABC 6/FOX 28 regarding Hale's firing:
"Personnel matters remain confidential by policy of the Diocese of Columbus, and thus cannot be discussed in specific terms by diocesan staff, even cases that are working their way through grievance procedures and/or have gained significant publicity.
"However, what can be said in general terms is that all Catholic school personnel at the outset of their employment agree that they will abide by the rules, regulations, and policies of the Catholic Diocese, including respecting the moral values advanced by the teachings of Christ.
"The Catholic Church respects the fundamental dignity of all persons, but also must insist that those in its employ respect the tenets of the Church. Personnel who choose to publicly espouse relationships or principles that are contrary to the teachings of the Catholic Church cannot, ultimately, remain in the employ of the Church."
Reporter: Carol Luper
Web Producer: Ken Hines