(Photo: The Columbus Dispatch Video)
An Ohio Catholic teacher's union said that it will not back Carla Hale, the teacher fired from her high school after officials found out she was in a same-sex relationship with another woman.
The Columbus Dispatch reported on Monday that the Central Ohio Association of Catholic Educators will not be supporting Hale's efforts to be reinstated as a physical-education teacher at Bishop Watterson High School.
"COACE's decision should not be interpreted as reflecting unfavorably upon Ms. Hale as a person or as an educator," a letter from the grievance committee provided by Hale reads. "She is known to COACE as a caring and compassionate educator whose professionalism is unquestioned."
Hale, who was fired from the school on Holy Thursday, March 20, revealed that an anonymous parent saw an obituary for Hale's mother, which listed her partner's name, Julie, and then sent it over to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Columbus. The long-time teacher was subsequently fired.
"I'm a private person," Hale said in a previous interview. "If they (students) had to describe me, they would say that I am a fanatic about soccer, I have a dog named boomer, and I have three kids that I talk about a lot – but beyond that, but beyond that, they wouldn't know anything else about me."
A student petition claiming that Hale has experienced discrimination based on her sexuality was started, demanding that she be reinstated to the school, and as of May 14 it has received over 127,000 signatures.
"Discrimination and injustice is something that we all have a duty to fight in today's society. It's unfair that someone who cared so much about her students and her job should lose them on the basis of something she cannot even control. The school claims its mission is to teach its students about love, acceptance, and tolerance, and yet it did none of this in the way it treated Ms. Hale," says the petition, which was started by Jackson Garrity, a former student of Hale's.
Bishop Frederick Campbell of Columbus has insisted, however, that the physical-education teacher was not fired because of her sexual orientation, but because she appears to be living in a "quasi-spousal relationship" with a woman, which goes against the church's moral teaching.
COACE President Kathleen Mahoney added that coming up with a decision in the case was an "extremely difficult task."
"These dedicated members of the Central Ohio Association of Catholic Educators spent many agonizing hours reviewing the facts of the Carla Hale case. It was their decision that the agreement had been violated and that there was not a case to bring to arbitration," Mahoney stated.
Diocesan officials have also affirmed that all teachers agree in their employment contracts to keep the tenets of the Catholic Church, and those contracts can be terminated if it is found that the employees have acted in a way that goes against those tenets.