Lesbian educator Carla Hale, who was fired from a Catholic high school earlier this year, has reached a settlement with the Diocese of Columbus. Hale will not return to her position as a physical education teacher and The Columbus Dispatch reports there were few details about the settlement:
“Carla Hale’s attorney and the diocese said in a joint statement yesterday that Hale will not return to Bishop Watterson High School ‘but will receive acknowledgement for her years of service.’ Neither Hale’s attorney nor the diocese would elaborate…
“Terms of the settlement, reached through private mediation, are confidential. Hale’s attorney, Thomas Tootle, would not say whether she will receive money…
“The agreement brings an end to all outstanding disputes between Hale and the diocese, including a complaint she filed with the Columbus Community Relations Commission under a city ordinance that makes it a misdemeanor for employers to discriminate based on sexual orientation, Tootle said.”
Hale was fired after her mother’s obituary included the name of the educator’s partner, sparking complaints from some Bishop Watterson High School parents. The ensuing controversy saw a Change.org petition gain 130,000 signatures in support of Hale, along with legal action and a social media campaign #halestorm. It also raised questions about civil law and church policy.
Even though the situation between Catholic leaders and Carla Hale is resolved, this incident causes many LGBT advocates in Ohio to reiterate the need for better laws. The Columbus Dispatch reports:
“Glen Skeen, president of the AFL-CIO’s Pride @ Work Ohio, said the group is pleased that the dignity of Hale’s work is being taken into consideration in some way.
“ ‘We will still continue to engage with the belief that LGBT folks are entitled to jobs and need to have access to the full range of jobs in the community,’ he said.
Elyzabeth Holford, executive director of Equality Ohio, an advocacy group for the LGBT community, said Hale’s firing highlights the need for statewide protections against job or housing discrimination based on sexual orientation.”
The trend in Catholic education of firing LGBT educators, or even heterosexual people who support equality, is partially a byproduct of increased marriage rights. As New Ways Ministry predicted over a year ago,, the more that marriage equality spreads, the more that we will witness these unjust firings in our church. Amid celebrations, it is necessary for Catholics to continue advocating for employment protections in law that include sexual orientation and gender identity.
Bondings 2.0 has followed developments in this story since April, and you can read our coverage on Carla Hale below. For other incidents of Catholic educators being fired, visit the category ‘Schools & Youth’ on the right side of this page.
April 24, 2013: Fired Lesbian Teacher Offers Hope Through Vulnerability
–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry