A Christian school in Texas has fired an unmarried science teacher because it claimed she was not a good “Christian role model” — even after she offered to get married.
Cathy Samford, who is now 39 weeks pregnant, told ABC News that she was “totally shocked” when Heritage Christian Academy in Rockwall, Texas fired her from her job as a science teacher and volleyball coach after they discovered she was pregnant late last year.
“I’m not just some teacher that went out to a bar and got pregnant and went back to school saying it’s okay,” Samford explained. “I was in a committed relationship the whole time and probably would have been married if things had gone differently and this would be a non-situation.”
“I didn’t think I would lose my job,” she said. “I was in shock and devastated and that’s when I said, ‘If this is the problem, I’m willing, and so is my fiancé, to go ahead and get married.’ That wasn’t the issue. We were going to get married regardless.”
Heritage Christian Academy headmaster Dr. Ron Taylor insisted to ABC News that he “had the feeling” the kids already knew she was pregnant so her marriage “wouldn’t have changed anything.”
“It doesn’t change that her behavior was out of wedlock,” Taylor said. “It’s not that she’s pregnant. The issue here is being an unmarried mother. … Everything that we stand for says that we want our teachers, who we consider to be in the ministry, to model what a Christian man or woman should be.”
With the help of her attorney, Colin Walsh, Samford has filed charges with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for gender and pregnancy discrimination. They are also prepared to sue the school.
“It’s against the law to fire someone for them taking a pregnancy leave and you can’t preventatively fire someone,” Walsh said. “You can’t contract around anti-discrimination laws. … “Just being generally religious or upholding Christian values is not enough to evoke the ministerial exception.”
“If anyone can say they’re a Christian organization and therefore not subject to federal and state decisions, then there’s no point in having those laws,” Walsh added.
Samford’s baby is due April 9th and she still doesn’t have a job.
“I’m very worried about money. I’m just hoping to make it through this month. I’ve had lots of medical bills. My insurance was dropped so everything I’ve had to pay is out of pocket,” she remarked. “I’m using my tax return just to live on. It’s a big concern. I don’t know what next month holds for me.”
Update (11:45 p.m. ET): A Center for Disease Control (CDC) study recently found that that one in four children were born to unmarried couples who were living together.
Watch the video below from ABC News, broadcast April 11, 2012.