Ohio Catholic Teachers’ Union Denies Support to Fired Lesbian Woman

Carla Hale
Carla Hale

Carla Hale, the lesbian physical education teacher who was fired from her job at a Columbus, Ohio, Catholic high school, will receive no support from her teachers’ union in appealing her case to higher authorities.

Hale, who was fired from Bishop Watterson H.S. after listing her partner’s name in her mother’s obituary,  had asked the grievance committee of the Central Ohio Association of Catholic Educators (COACE) to take up her cause, but they returned a negative response, according to a report in  the Columbus Dispatch.

The Dispatch quotes the union’s letter explaining their decision:

“COACE’s decision should not be interpreted as reflecting unfavorably upon Ms. Hale as a person or as an educator. She is known to COACE as a caring and compassionate educator whose professionalism is unquestioned.”

Lack of union support means that Hale will have to finance her appeals on her own, and her supporters have established a fund for her. A group of 5,000 people calling themselves “Halestorm, Ohio” have set up a website that is able to receive donations for the case. It also provides updates of actions and continuing developments.

Kathleen Mahoney, the union president, said the decision was “extremely difficult” to make:

“These dedicated members of the Central Ohio Association of Catholic Educators spent many agonizing hours reviewing the facts of the Carla Hale case. It was their decision that the agreement had been violated and that there was not a case to bring to arbitration.”

The union said that they have an agreement with the diocese that teachers will live in accord with Catholic teaching.

NBC4i.com reports the wording of the agreement:

“A contract may be terminated at any time for gross inefficiency or immorality, for serious unethical conduct or willful and or persistent violations of regulations of the school or Diocesan Office of the Catholic Church.”

Hale disputes that she violated the agreement:

“I did not violate the terms of my employment at Bishop Watterson. While I would prefer to have COACE backing, I recognize the tremendous support I receive on a daily basis. My decision to acknowledge a loved one in my mother’s obit was not immoral. I am not immoral.”

Hale’s next step is to appeal to Superintendent Lucia McQuaide of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Columbus.  If that fails, she has the option of bringing a suit against the school. 

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

Related Posts

April 17, 2013: Lesbian Teacher Fired for Listing Her Partner’s Name in Her Mother’s Obituary

April 22, 2013: Support for Fired Lesbian Teacher Grows Rapidly As She Speaks Out

April 24, 2013: Fired Lesbian Teacher Offers Hope Through Vulnerability

April 26, 2013: In the Wake of Discrimination, Carla Hale Hopes Students See Love & Support

May 8, 2013: Carla Hale’s Firing Raises Questions of Law and Church Policy


Lesbian Teacher Fired for Listing Her Partner’s Name in Her Mother’s Obituary

Carla Hale
Carla Hale

Carla Hale, a teacher at Bishop Watterson High School in Columbus, Ohio, has been fired because she listed her lesbian partner’s name in her mother’s obituary, according to The Columbus Dispatch.

But the firing has not sat well with students at the school.  They have organized a change.org petition to have Hale reinstated to her post as a physical education teacher.  The petition states, in part:

Bishop Watterson High School

“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. The school claims its mission is to teach its students about love, acceptance, and tolerance, and yet it did none of this in the way it treated Ms. Hale.”

According to the Dispatch story, Hale, who has worked at the school for 19 years, was fired after a parent complained about the obituary to the Diocese of Columbus.

According to LGBTQNation.com, the petition was started by Jackson Garrity, a senior at Bishop Watterson, who explained the motivation for the response:

“My classmates and I feel very passionately about this issue. We (the senior class) agreed that we needed to take a stand as leaders and voice our opinions.”

This is the second time this year that a Catholic school in Ohio has fired someone over LGBT issues.  The other case was Cincinnati Assistant Principal Mike Moroski, who was fired because of stating his support for marriage equality on his personal blog.

And the firings are part of a national trend of church leaders dismissing both paid employees and volunteers who are LGBT people, or lesbian/gay people who have become civilly married, or people who have stated their support of marriage publicly (see list of related blog posts below my signature).The most recent case before Hale’s was Nicholas Coppola in Long Island, New York, who was dismissed from several parish ministries because it became known that he married his partner.

If church leaders continue with this trend, they will soon find that they have no one left working in their institutions.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

April 4, 2013: Long Island Gay Catholic Expelled from Parish Ministries for Marrying

January 9, 2013: Transgender Teacher Sues Catholic School Over Firing

September 25, 2012: Fired New Zealand Teacher’s Final and Most Powerful Lesson

August 22, 2012: Catholic John Doe Fears for His Church Job Because of Marriage Equality Contribution

June 28, 2012: Fired Minnesota Catholic School Teacher Calls for Dialogue on Marriage Equality

May 5, 2012:  Excluding Lesbian and Gay Church Workers from Employment

April 29, 2012:  “Whodunit” Surrounds Decision to Disinvite Gay Alum from Commencement

March 1, 2012: Is It Possible to Find Hope in This Week’s Painful News?

February 12, 2012:  Church Music Director Fired For Marrying His Partner of 23 Years

NEWS NOTES: May 17, 2012

News on Catholic LGBT issues has been coming in so quickly lately that it has been hard to keep up with “News Notes.”  So, here’s a long list of  links to some items you might find of interest:


1) “Do you think it’s appropriate for the Catholic Church to promote petitions for anti-gay marriage Referendum 74?” is the question that a Washington State newspaper asked its readers in reference to the ballot initiative to repeal the state’s newly-minted marriage equality law.  You can get a flavor of the 5,400 responses by reading The National Catholic Reporter’s blog post entitled “Washington newspaper readers split on church’s role in same-sex marriage petition.”

2) The Columbus Dispatch (Ohio) reports that when a lesbian couple were barred from their Lexington, Kentucky, Catholic high school’s prom, they threw an alternative prom in the school’s parking lot, enjoyed by many students.  Read about it in “Barred from prom, gay couple come out(side).”

3) In Minnesota, the Council for the Baptized, which is described as a “collegial voice for Catholics in the Archdiocese of St.Paul/Minneapolis,” has issued a statement of “Opposition to Marriage Amendment,” explaining why they oppose the state’s proposed constitutional amendment against marriage equality.  You can read the full statement here.


1) The Constitutional Court of Colombia has awarded pension benefits to the male partner of  a deceased Catholic priest.  Read the PinkNews article “Colombia: Partner of gay Catholic priest wins pension rights.”

2) The Associated Press says that the heavily-Catholic country of Argentina is now the world’s leader in transgender rights and equality, with the passage of a new law “giving people the freedom to change their legal and physical gender identity simply because they want to, without having to undergo judicial, psychiatric and medical procedures beforehand.” NPR.com carries the full AP story entitled “Argentina Gender Rights Law: A New World Standard.”

3) In “Catholic bishops denounce threats to religious freedom,” CBC.com (Canada’s public radio) reports that Canadian bishops have issued a pastoral letter which encourages “civil disobedience in cases where public policy runs afoul of private morality on questions such as abortion, contraception and gay marriage.”

4) When an Australian former judge says he is a ‘second-class citizen’ because he cannot marry” at a recent senate inquiry on legalizing same-sex marriage, a Catholic MP there relied on her faith as her reason for supporting the legislation:   “Catholics have a responsibility to form their conscience. . . . A Catholic who has formed their conscience cannot be compelled to act contrary to it.”  GayStarNews.com carries the full story.

5) The Church’s role in marriage equality debates in heavily-Catholic countries such as Italy, France, and Portugal is examined in GayStarNews.com’s article “Why same-sex marriage is spreading in Europe.”

6) Ireland’s Association of Catholic Priests has been working for reform in many areas of church life.  A recent survey they commissioned shows that 60% of  Ireland’s Catholics disagreed with Church teaching that same-sex  relationships were immoral.  Read about the ACP’s work in the BBC’s report “Association of Catholic Priests discuss Church’s future.”

7) A “Filipino lawmaker urges colleagues to fight homophobia” by coming out of the closet in this heavily Catholic nation.  Read the whole story on AllVoices.com.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry