Gay Roncalli teacher facing threatened termination; “Time to be a Rebel” group rallies to her defense

Posted on: August 15, 2018, by :

By Jeff Turner

A Guidance Counsellor at Roncalli High School may be terminated from her job after school administrators and the archdiocese discovered that she was married to another woman. Shelly Fitzgerald, the guidance counselor in question, provided an accounting of the situation on a Facebook post in a private group.

“For the past fifteen years I’ve been at Roncalli, I have had to hide my twenty-two year relationship with someone who I love very much and adore sharing parenthood with. But I’ve had to stay hidden and quiet from my friends or risk losing my job.”

Fitzgerald goes on to describe how an unidentified individual sought out her marriage certificate from Hancock County (According to the Indy Star and other sources, she has been married to her partner since 2014.), and how the archdiocese and school administrators got involved.

Fitzgerald said that they gave her the following options: resign, “dissolve” her marriage, keep quiet about the whole matter and possibly make it through the rest of the schoolyear even though her contract wouldn’t be renewed, though if she should get “too boisterous” they would immediately terminate her from her position.

“I let them know I have no intention of divorcing, no intention of quitting, and no intention of not telling anyone why I have to leave the job I’ve loved so much,” the teacher said in her post, her response to the options she was given.

Students and the Indianapolis community have rallied to her cause, decrying what they consider blatant discrimination. But it may ultimately prove futile. Since Roncalli is a private institution, laws that prohibit workplace discrimination of this sort do not apply, nor does Indianapolis’ citywide anti-discrimination ordinance.
Roncalli has released a statement where they provide their explanation for Fitzgerald’s possible firing. The incident is described as a “confidential personal matter concerning her (Fitzgerald’s) employment contract with Roncalli,” how the school “does not discuss specific details of school personal matters. Roncalli takes seriously its responsibility to treat all employees fairly and to discuss their employment record in a public forum.”

The statement also gives their justification for their potential firing of Fitzgerald, stating the school’s policy that employees adhere to “the belief that all persons are called to respect human sexuality and its expression in the sacrament of marriage between a man and a woman.”

The Catholic Church, as is widely known, does not support same sex marriage.  And firing Fitzgerald would be perfectly legal for the school, despite the fact they receive public funds for their voucher program.

A Facebook group, “Time to be a Rebel,” created to show solidarity and support for Fitzgerald from those in the Indianapolis community already has over 3,500 members as of Tuesday evening.   The group may be found at the following link:   https://www.facebook.com/groups/526973144429223/

As of this writing, Fitzgerald has not been officially fired from her job.

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