A Roman Catholic school has come under fire this week for firing a well-liked teacher who publicly announced he is gay.
Thousands have protested the move by Holy Ghost Preparatory School's administration through petitions and Facebook groups. The protesters include: school alumni, parents and former teachers. Some of the protesters have even threatened to withdraw their financial support to the school unless the teacher is reinstated.
Michael Griffin, the teacher, was fired after telling school administrators that he was planning to marry his same sex partner.
A letter signed by 100 alums, parents and former staff said that Griffin should not have been punished for his lifestyle; instead, he should have been congratulated for his upcoming marriage.
However, there are those who say Griffin was fully aware of the school’s terms of employment at the time of joining the school. Some in the community argue that he should have known he was jeopardizing his career by opting to marry a same-sex partner while still employed at the school.
The trouble started last week with an email Griffin sent to the school’s principal. Griffin's email announced that he would be late for a staff meeting because he was getting a marriage certificate. Had Griffin not sent that email he may still have had his job today. According to Griffin, everyone in the school knew about the relationship but the email forced the decision.
Same-sex marriages are not allowed in Catholic teachings. A statement from the school stated "All of us, including Mr. Griffin, understood that his decision would place him in violation of his contract.”
Thus, the school is arguing its case based on its contractual agreement with Griffin. This position has received support from people like Rita Schwartz, leader of a local teachers union, who said that teachers at Catholic schools are expected to adhere to church morals.
"When you sign on to work in a Catholic school ... there are certain things that you can't do," she said.
Given the uproar the incident has caused, it will be interesting to see whether or not the school changes its decision in the coming weeks.
(image via YouTube)