A teacher in Minnesota has become the second LGBT employee to be terminated by Totino-Grace High School this year after officials learned she was in a same sex relationship.
English and religion teacher Kristen Ostendorf, 43, told MinnPost that she unexpectedly came out to a room full of 120 teachers at a workshop last month and was asked to resign the next day.
“I tried to figure out how I could encourage others to ‘make their mark’ if I was willing to be part of a community where I was required to hide and compromise and deny who I am,” she explained. “How could I ask others to give themselves entirely to the work God calls them to when I couldn’t do this myself?”
“It wasn’t planned. It was a very surreal moment when I heard myself saying the things I tried not to say. And I was at once terrified and really glad and proud. I didn’t just say, ‘I’m gay, I’m in a relationship with a woman, and I’m happy,’ and sit down,” Ostendorf continued. “That really wasn’t the point of what I was saying. It was, ‘This is my prayer for all of us: That we mean what we do.’”
The next day, Totino-Grace President Julie Michaels called Ostendorf in for a meeting and told her not to attend the next workshop. After 18 years at Grace, she was was asked to resign.
“I told them I would not be resigning and they gave me what my lawyer says amounts to a letter of termination,” she recalled.
In an interview with KARE that aired on Thursday, Ostendorf said that she had come to a point where the internal struggle of keeping who she was a secret became too much.
“The kids who are gay in Catholic schools always concern me,” she noted. “I worry about what my silence for all these years has said.”
In a statement, Totino-Grace said that it was “thankful” for Ostendorf’s service, but called the termination “a private matter between an employer and employee.”
The last president of Totino-Grace, William (Bill) Hudson, was forced to resign in July after he revealed that he was in a committed same sex relationship.
Watch this video from KARE, broadcast Sept. 12, 2013.
(h/t: Think Progress)