Pope Francis

Pope Francis

A group of American teachers have asked Pope Francis for an audience to discuss Catholic schools that have unjustly dismissed gay or gay supportive staff.

On Tuesday, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) delivered a letter to the Vatican on behalf of nine teachers who lost their jobs at Catholic schools for either being lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT), or supporting an LGBT family member.

In March, the Archdiocese of Cincinnati included an outrageous “morality” clause in its teacher employment contract that not only allows for the firing of gay and lesbian school employees, but also the firing of staff that simply support the so-called “homosexual lifestyle.”

In April, HRC responded by delivering a petition signed by over 30,000 supporters of the Cincinnati Diocesan school teachers calling on Archbishop Schnurr to remove the discriminatory clause.

Since then, Molly Shumate, who has been a devoted first grade teacher in Cincinnati for 14 years, was forced to resign after being asked to choose between her career as an educator and supporting her gay son.

“These draconian laws are designed to force LGBT people back into the closet and silence straight allies,” said HRC. “They have sparked a frightening trend that is being duplicated in Cleveland, Oakland, Hawaii and most recently in Macon, Georgia where just last week Flint Dollar was fired from his position as Band Director at Mount De Sale’s Academy.”

Dollar says that he was fired from the Catholic school by President David Held, who cited Dollar’s pending marriage to his male partner of six years as the reason for termination. Mount de Sales students and parents are reportedly planning a sit-in protesting the decision.

The letter, signed by the teachers and delivered to the Nuncio, or diplomatic representative of the Holy See, reads in part:

“We have devoted years, some of us even decades, to serving our communities as teachers, leaders and role models. We have made a conscious choice to work within the Catholic Church because we strongly believe that a Catholic education prepares our young people to be responsible citizens, men and women for others. For each and every one of us, our employment was far more than just a job – it was a reflection of our core Catholic values.”

The teachers said that they are encouraged by the Pope’s increasingly open statements and requested an audience with him.

“We take hope from your messages of acceptance and see in your pastoral leadership the possibility for the Church to correct these hurtful injustices. We ask for a Papal audience with our families, so that you may hear our personal stories firsthand and see the impact the Church’s actions have had on us all,” they asked.

“HRC calls on the Vatican to receive and carefully consider this letter to ensure that no more young people are deprived of a good education and no more teachers are denied employment because of who they are or who they love,” added the organisation.

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