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Wednesday, July 30, 2014
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Published: Thursday, 4/25/2013

Moral lessons

Carla Hale is 59 years old and has just been fired from her job as a physical education teacher at Bishop Watterson High School in Columbus, Ohio. She worked there for 19 years.

Her offense? Being a lesbian.

That’s not something she ever shared with her students. But an obituary for her late mother published Ms. Hale’s name along with the name of her female partner. An anonymous parent sent a letter to the school and the school fired Ms. Hale saying that Catholic school personnel must set good moral examples.

But what is the real moral example here? A teacher in a committed relationship that she kept private? Or a school that, based on an anonymous letter, fires a teacher without cause, except who she is and whom she loves.

The moral lesson for students is that being straight is more important than being fair or loyal.

The school’s action was not illegal. There are civil penalties for job discrimination based on sexual orientation. But these probably will be trumped by First Amendment considerations: Separation of church and state.

Can the state dictate hiring policies to a Catholic school? No. But the public still can be appalled. And a school or institution can feel that pressure and change its policies.

That’s what should happen here. More than 40,000 people have signed a petition at Change.org, urging the school to reinstate Ms. Hale.

Until then, we can only wonder about a school that fires a loyal employee because of the person she loves.



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