Cincinnati Teacher Forced Out for Loving Gay Son

Molly Shumate, right, with son, Zachery

Tensions in Cincinnati have been building since the Archdiocese released a  new teaching contract which features an enhanced morality clause which, in part, focuses on LGBT people and allies. One teacher is standing by her gay son which means sacrificing her career, while other educators weigh their options under an impending deadline.

The new teaching contract explicitly bans public support for LGBT rights, forcing Cincinnati teachers to make tough choices. Educator Molly Shumate had to choose between her job and her gay son, Zachery. The Enquirer reports:

“Though a lifelong Catholic and devoted teacher, the lengthy contract’s starkly detailed restrictions on her personal life – and the freedom to publicly support her now 22-year-old son – stunned her.

” ‘In my eyes there is nothing wrong with my son. This is what God gave me and what God created and someone I should never be asked to not support,’ she said from her Butler County home.’

” ‘If my son were to say to me, “will you go somewhere with me that is supported or run by gays and lesbians,” I would have to tell him no, according to that contract. And if my picture was taken, what would happen?’ she said.

“So for the first time in 14 years of teaching, Shumate will not be signing the Archdiocese’s teacher employment contract for next school year. And when the last class bell at her Hamilton County school rings out the finish of the school year later this month, it will also toll the end of her Catholic teaching career.”

Shumate, who teaches first grade, went on to say that signing the contract would be like “telling my son I’ve changed my mind, that I don’t support him.” Her public stand against the new contract is the first by a teacher, but joins existing protests which reveal just how dissatisfied Catholics are with the archdiocese’s decision.

Details of the contract were first covered by Bondings 2.0 in March, but there is renewed interest as he end of this school year, which is the deadline for teachers to sign, approaches. In late April, educators from the archdiocese met with the head of the National Association of Catholic School Teachers (NACST) to discuss possible responses, including unionizing. WNKU reports:

“The president of NACST . . . . told the group they had no sense of empowerment and it was time for teachers in the region’s Catholic schools to say they’ve had enough…

“At the union meeting in Centerville [Ohio], representatives of 14 archdiocesan schools spoke about their rights as educators and people. One woman said she didn’t agree with the words of the contract but is a single parent with two kids and needs the job. Others said they won’t sign.”

A billboard in Cincinnati.

Elsewhere, Catholics are acting in support of the 2,200-plus teachers who are affected by the contract. Thousands have signed online petitions and more than a hundred people marched on the chancery recently. A local Voice of the Faithful chapter put up twelve billboards asking, “Would Pope Francis Sign the New Catholic Teacher Contract?” Catholic lawyer Tim Garry, Jr. met with the archdiocese about modifying the contract to no avail, saying:

” ‘We’re attempting to help the teachers to have a voice in their contract…I doubt there is a more important contract in the Archdiocese, impacting more people, teachers, students and parents, than this contract with 2,200 or more teachers, 43,000 or so students and their parents.’ “

Cincinnati is not unique, with dioceses like Honolulu and Cleveland following suit, but it is a foreboding example of how damaging these type of contracts will be. Forcing educators to choose between the children they love at home and those they serve in the classroom is unjust. Curtailing the labor rights and conscience protections of church workers is inconsistent with the Church’s tradition. Worst of all, acting punitively against church workers is directly opposed to Christ’s witness in welcoming all.

Thankfully, church workers like Molly Shumate are taking a stand for LGBT people and a just Church.

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry

9 Responses to Cincinnati Teacher Forced Out for Loving Gay Son

  1. will says:

    If the result of these contracts is that most of the LGBT-ally teachers leave their careers in Catholic Education then I think the Diocese will regard it as ‘job well done’. After all, those who leave will be the ones who would cause them ‘trouble’ and those that remain either agree with the Diocese’s intrinsic homophobia or are sufficiently cowed into remaining silent. In either case the hierarchy’s position will be made easier.

    Instead teachers must fight this and work at gaining support from their colleagues. This cleansing of opposition is a structural weakness of any authoritarian organisation (benign or malign) when the top layers have assumed an unjust groupthink that is largely unsupported by the lower layers (as polls repeatedly show). The best way to deal with it is a dignified but very firm stand by people such as Molly Shumate who can shine a light on such injustice. She mustn’t go quietly!

  2. Mary Colgan McNamara says:

    An additional thought for billboards–Would Jesus sign such a contract? Unthinkable!

  3. David Martin says:

    This invasion of the Mom’s rights and dashing of her love relationship is the WORST TRAVESTY yet perpetrated by the Church with regards to teaching & support of Church teaching. The position of the diocese in forcing to choose between love for her son and her job is not imaging Christ. I daresay it smacks of evil hearted administrator – the anti-Christ – for truly it represents everything Christ condemned – hypocrisy and judging your neighbor. If Mom accepts her son and loves him – to the point of standing up for him publicly – not having a thing to do with her teaching position – she is exercising the free will divinely granted her. Our Church has placed itself above God – condemning – not loving. This has pushed me nearer to rejecting a vile institution which I cherish. My Faith in Christ is unshaken but my contempt and scorn for Church hierarchy only deepens. Unless the institutional Church heeds the words of Francis I – the Church’s days are numbered. And rightfully so !

  4. Mary says:

    It seems the Catholic church is forcing out the LGBT “sinners” and their “accomplices”. I also can imagine that some teachers will sign these types of contracts and lie about their beliefs about LGBT people in order to keep their jobs; and that will be ok with the church. This is all so sad. What does this say to the children in the classrooms and in the pews?
    I have left the Catholic church because my son is gay and I refuse to be “in the closet” and treated as “less than”. I applaud and agree with Molly for supporting her son.

  5. henry says:

    it seems the Catholic Church has a sort memory of there Priest’s sexually abusing alter boys for years and they covered it up so in my opinon they need to keep there views to there self …… cause your child is your child no matter what there orientation is .

  6. […] As Bondings reported yesterday, one teacher, Molly Shumate, has already publicly resigned from teaching in Cincinnati over the contract and others have begun organizing. The archdiocese, as well as Honolulu, Cleveland, and Oakland, should follow Notre Dame’s lead and make their education policy: If you can teach, you can teach. […]

  7. […] the same week that Catholics in Cincinnati are protesting new teacher contracts which prohibit employees from supporting LGBT issues, another […]

  8. […] between two women or two men are cause for scandal while firing LGBT church workers who help educate children and build up God’s kingdom is not. Young women wearing pants for their senior photos is cause […]

  9. […] least five educators have been fired or resigned in recent years over LGBT issues. These include Molly Shumate, whose son is gay, Richard Miller, a partnered gay man, and Richard Hague, who refused to sign […]

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