Catholic School Fires Gay Teacher Shortly After Same Sex Marriage Ceremony – Should He Be Allowed to Teach? [POLL/VIDEO]
A teacher who was working for an institution that teaches about his specific lifestyle being sinful and anathema to church teaching was fired from that institution when his marriage to his same sex partner was revealed.
Should he be reinstated, since he’d been there 17 years and was much beloved by his students, or does the school have the right to fire him and not take him back?
And, by the way, this isn’t the only instance where a teacher’s been fired from a Catholic school for being gay.
A Southern California man who taught at a Catholic high school for 17 years was fired days after he married his partner.
Students say Ken Bencomo, 45, was one of the most beloved teachers at St. Lucy's Priory High School, an all-girl school in Glendora, Calif.
Bencomo and his partner Christopher Persky, 32, were one of the first couples to line up on July 1 at the San Bernardino County Assessor-Recorder's Office to get married after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled a ban on same-sex marriage as unconstitutional.
That same day, the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin ran a front-page photo and online video of the newlyweds celebrating their marriage.
On July 12, Bencomo was notified in person by Assistant Principal Sister Helen Dziuk that he was being terminated because his marriage violates the church's teachings, Bencomo's lawyer, Patrick McGarrigle, told HuffPost.
"The happiest day of his life has turned into a nightmare," McGarrigle said. "He's sick about it because he has such an affinity for the school. His lifelong efforts have been disrupted. The humiliation hurts him very much."
Bencomo would like to resolve the matter with the school without any litigation, McGarrigle said. Before his marriage, Bencomo had signed an employment renewal contract with St. Lucy's in May.
Jessica Navarro, a 2011 alum of St. Lucy's, expressed her gratitude to "Mr.B" on Facebook.
"Mr. B was the one who gave me the opportunity to dance and choreograph in the style that I love most," Navarro wrote. "He put faith into me and gave me the responsibility of choreographing pieces for the hip hop team and for my dance class and just by having someone so friendly and welcoming as him gave me more faith in myself as a dancer."
Students say that it was well-known on campus for years that Bencomo was in a committed relationship. Several staff members had met his partner, who he has been with for 10 years, Bencomo's lawyer said.
"It was known by 99 percent of the school that he was gay but it was never an issue in the past," Littleton said to HuffPost. "I think it's very hypocritical to be OK with someone and their relationship until they are open about it."
The Archdiocese of Los Angeles parish staff handbook states that an employee may be disciplined, including suspended or terminated, for "behavior counter to the moral teachings and standards of the church."
I find it odd especially in light of the fact that Pope Francis recently stated as to his not judging gay people.
According to a recent Gallup poll, 60 percent of Catholics are in favor of "making same-sex marriages legal in all 50 states."
However, the law does not protect LGBT employees of religious institutions.
"Unfortunately for the students at the countless religious schools in our country, the legal thumb usually is on the discrimination side of the scales," Jennifer Pizer, senior counsel and director of the Lambda Legal Law and Policy Project, told HuffPost.
The U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled that religious schools, protected by the First Amendment, have the right to hire and fire teachers based on whether or not their actions are in line with religious doctrine.
Federal legislation prohibits employment discrimination based on race, religion, sex, nation of origin, age and any disability -- it does not ban discrimination based on gender identify or sexual orientation. Thus, in 33 states that currently don't have state bans, people can be fired, denied a promotion or harassed, merely for being LGBT.
It sucks, and as stated above, that’s not the only case where a teacher’s been fired once it’s their lifestyle’s been made public.
The Superintendent of Schools for the Catholic Archdiocese of Columbus, Ohio, won't reinstate another gay teacher fired from a Catholic school.
Lucia McQuaide, the superintendent of schools for the Catholic Archdiocese of Columbus, will not reinstate Carla Hale.
Hale was recently fired from Bishop Watterson High School for disclosing a relationship with a female partner in her mother’s obituary.
Hale says she was discriminated against for being gay. Her diocese says she was fired for being in a “quasi-spousal relationship” outside of marriage, which they say violates a lifestyle contract signed by all teachers in the district.
Last month her union announced that they will not support Hale in her quest to get her job back.
Hale has also filed a complaint with the Columbus Community Relations Commission, siting a city anti-discrimination ordinance.
In the statement, Hale said this was the first time she’d missed a graduation ceremony in 19 years.
So I guess if you amass a rating of being, at the very least, an effective teacher, and at best, beloved by your students; you still lose your job because your lifestyle violates the teachings of the church.
Odd, seeing is how being effective for a good many years doesn’t trump one’s lifestyle.