Mt. Laurel Gay Teacher Fired From Pennsylvania Catholic School After Applying to Marry Partner – Is Firing Justifiable? [POLL]
A gay Spanish and French Catholic School teacher from Mt. Laurel was abruptly fired from his job of 12 years from a prestigious Catholic high school in Bensalem because he decided to apply for a New Jersey license to marry his longtime partner.
Upon joining the faculty of the school, of which is an alumnus, he signed a contract stating that he’d abide by the teachings of the Church, among them forbidding same sex marriage.
His problem is that he’s never made a secret of his lifestyle throughout his tenure and felt he was “blindsided” by their decision to fire him.
Do you feel they were right in doing so?
High school teacher Michael Griffin was fired from his position at Holy Ghost Preparatory School in Bensalem on Friday after applying for a marriage license in New Jersey with his partner, a move that the school says “contradicts the terms of his teaching contract.”
Griffin, an alumnus of the private all boys liberal arts Catholic high school, had taught Spanish and French at the school for the past 12 years. He first posted about his termination on Facebook Friday morning.
“Today I applied for a marriage license since NJ now has marriage equality,” Griffin wrote. “After 12 years together I was excited to finally be able to marry my partner. Because of that, I was fired from Holy Ghost Preparatory School today. I am an alumnus of the school and have taught there for 12 years. I feel hurt, saddened, betrayed and except for this post, am at a loss for words.”
Griffin says an email he wrote to school administration informing them of he and his partner's plan to obtain a marriage license is what opened the can of worms and ultimately lead to his firing.
He says that he was blindsided by the school's reaction and that his relationship with his partner had never been a secret to faculty and administration.
"I've been with my partner for more than 12 years, the entire time I've been teaching at the school," said Griffin. "He's been to numerous school functions with me, he's even been to McCloskey's house."
When contacted for comment, the school’s headmaster, Fr. James McCloskey, said in a statement that Griffin’s termination was due to his obtaining a license to marry his same-sex partner, a violation of the school’s teaching terms and the contract that Griffin was under.
McCloskey wrote in a statement obtained by NBC10: “At a meeting in my office yesterday, teacher Michael Griffin made clear that he obtained a license to marry his same sex partner.” “Unfortunately, this decision contradicts the terms of his teaching contract at our school, which requires all faculty and staff to follow the teachings of the Church as a condition of their employment. In discussion with Mr. Griffin, he acknowledged that he was (aware of) this provision, yet he said that he intended to go ahead with the ceremony. Regretfully, we informed Mr. Griffin that we have no choice but to terminate his contract effective immediately.”
He believes this section of the teacher’s code of conduct is the one that led to his firing:
"That, although, the School welcomes teachers from other denominations and recognizes their rights to religious freedom, as employees of a Catholic institution, all teachers are expected to uphold lifestyles compatible with the moral teaching of the Roman Catholic Church."
Following an outpouring of support across social media sites, Griffin posted another statement on his Facebook page on Saturday:
“Thank you to everyone for all of your messages of love and support since yesterday," Griffin said. "It is so overwhelming and my heart aches over everything that has happened. Holy Ghost helped form me to be the person that I am today. Even though I am no longer employed there, I wanted to share their mission and philosophy, because I feel like I have tried to make it my life's philosophy as best I can, even now. I am trying to move forward with a peaceful heart and wish nothing but the best to my colleagues and students who mean the world to me.”
On Monday, the school posted this letter from McCloskey regarding the matter:
"In recent days, our school has been the subject of news stories arising from the decision to terminate the employment of Mr. Michael Griffin as a teacher at Holy Ghost Prep. We acknowledge that this decision has been difficult for everyone involved – for Mr. Griffin certainly, but also for students, families, faculty and staff, our alumni and all who are a part of the Holy Ghost community. We regret the pain that this has caused to any and all involved."
"I really did love working there, I went to school there, they formed who I am," Griffin said. "I'm sure I'll find employment at another school, hopefully rather sooner than later."
The lesson here is that there’s more to be learned from the “code of conduct” each teacher signs as a condition of employment than the actual subject matter each teacher teaches.
In other words, we don’t care how good or efficient a teacher you are. Once you sign a contract saying you agree to abide by our rules of what constitutes values consistent with the Catholic Church, violating it is grounds for immediate termination.
Hate to say it, but inasmuch as I disagree with the Church’s teaching on same sex marriage – Mr. Griffin had to know – a contract’s a contract.