School Receives State Funding via Voucher Program – and State Law Says Religious Freedom Law Cannot Be Used to Discriminate
A guidance counselor employed by an Indiana Catholic School for 15 years has suddenly found her job may be on the line after the school learned of her 22-year relationship with her wife. Roncalli High School in Indianapolis is publicly calling Shelly Fitzgerald’s same-sex relationship a matter of “personal conduct” as well as a contractual issue. She has been placed on paid administrative leave.
“As role models for students, the personal conduct of every teacher, guidance counselor and administrator and staff member, both at school and away from school, must convey and be supportive of the teachings of the Catholic Church,” Roncalli officials wrote in a lengthy post on the school’s Facebook page, the Indy Star reports.
Roncalli High School calls itself the “life prep school.”
The school may find itself in a legal battle. Fitzgerald, who married her wife in 2014, has retained legal counsel. One avenue they may examine is the law then-Governor Mike Pence signed, a “religious freedom” law he was forced to amend that now states it cannot be used to discriminate. Roncalli accepts state funding via a school voucher program.
School Officials Allegedly Told Fitzgerald She Could ‘Dissolve Her Marriage’ to Keep Her Job
Meanwhile, via a Facebook message sent to some parents, “Fitzgerald said school officials said she could resign or dissolve her marriage or risk being fired or not getting her contract renewed,” the the Indy Star notes.
In that lengthy Facebook post, Roncalli High School officials also say, “Catholic schools are ministries of the Catholic Church, and teachers, school guidance counselors and administrators are vital ministers in sharing the mission of the Church.”
Catholic teachings, the school adds, “include, but are not limited to: honoring the dignity of each human life from conception to natural death, care for God’s creation, and the belief that all persons are called to respect human sexuality and its expression in the Sacrament of Marriage between a man and a woman as a sign of God’s love and fidelity to His Church.”