Sexual orientation discrimination should be a thing of the past


Checking my Twitter after school one day, I stumbled across a news story saying a guidance counselor was under fire because she was gay. The school she worked at was threatening her with dismissal if she didn’t get a divorce.  

My first reaction was anger. All I could think was why would they do this? Is being gay still that big of a deal? And why does it matter to them anyways, it’s her life?

To add some background, she was Shelly Fitzgerald and worked at Roncalli High School. As a Catholic school, Roncalli teaches about Catholicism and expects that its staff and students follow the teachings as well. Recently, the school and the Archbishop of Indianapolis found out that Fitzgerald has been in a relationship with a woman for 22 years, and the two obtained a marriage license in 2014.

Following this, the school and the Archbishop gave Fitzgerald three options. She could either “dissolve” her marriage, leave her job at the school or wait until the end of the school year, at which point her contract would be terminated.

This situation was then made public through a public Facebook post Fitzgerald made and through various interviews she has had with local news outlets, such as the Indianapolis Star. And, as of now, she is on administrative leave.

This whole case is just so frustrating to me. A woman is being forced to leave her job at the school because of her sexual orientation. The job she has worked at for the past 15 years, at the same school she graduated from, is now forcing her to leave.

But then, I thought, “Is this legal? Can they give her these ultimatums? Is the church against people who are gay?” Upon finding out the answers to these questions, I was speechless.

According to FindLaw, an online database of laws in the U.S., there are currently no federal laws preventing workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation if one is not working for a federal job. This means only those who work for the government are protected from this type of discrimination.

While some states have passed their own laws saying employers, public or private, cannot discriminate based on this, Indiana is not one of those states. Indiana only has laws against it for public workers.

So, the reason I am angry and I am confused is simple. If federal employers cannot discriminate against people based on these unchangeable aspects, then why can private employers? If this discrimination is deemed as unconstitutional, then why does it still happen in America today?

Also, why, in this specific case, can a private school, that receives PUBLIC money through vouchers, discriminate if it wants to?

IndyStar reported on Aug. 14 that in the past five years, Roncalli High School has received over $6.5 million from the state through vouchers.

If you ask me, I don’t think that private schools receiving that much state money should be allowed to discriminate in employment. Just saying.

I believe that any organization receiving money from the state or government should have to abide by the same rules government employers have to. It only makes sense.

And yeah, I know there’s this whole thing about gay people being against other people’s lifestyles, but that in itself doesn’t make sense. Someone else being gay doesn’t affect you at all.

I just still think it’s ridiculous that in 2018 people still have biases against others when it comes to things they can’t change, like their sexual orientation. Like, it’s just crazy to me.

It’s especially crazy to me that the Catholic leaders here in Indiana chose to portray these biases too.

From what I’ve learned from the statement that Indianapolis’s Archbishop Charles Thompson wrote in response to this case, the Catholic Church doesn’t believe being gay is a sin anyways.

In fact, he quotes the Catechism of the Catholic Church where it says that all people, even those with same-sex attractions, “must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity.”

If the Catholic Church truly believes this, then what is the school’s problem with continuing to employ Fitzgerald?

In their defense, they say it’s, because the church upholds the “sanctity of marriage.” Something that they characterize as “a permanent partnership between one man and one woman ordered to the good of the couple and the procreation and education of children.”

If you ask me, any same-sex marriage can be for the good of the couple, they can raise children and they can educate children. Just because they’re of the same-sex doesn’t mean that they can’t do those things.

So, I just find the words of the church to be contradictory to itself.

All together, this whole situation not only angers me, but has opened my eyes. It has opened my eyes to the fact that maybe people aren’t as accepting as I thought, and it scares me. As an out lesbian and as someone who’s always been proud of who I am, I’m now questioning if I even should be. Because who knows, maybe I’m the next person to be fired, because I have a girlfriend.

According to PBS, there are estimates that there are 9 million LGBT people in America. However, this estimate is extremely rough, in part because of the fact that many LGBT people in America aren’t out. Why is this?

This is because, people, like the church, claim to be so accepting, but now I can tell some really aren’t. They preach that they accept us and they respect us, but if given the chance, they’d get rid of us. They’d fire us from our jobs, they’d disrespect who we are, they’d choose to label us as differently and more, to say the least.

You know, I thought maybe the world was starting to change, but maybe I thought wrong.