(Photo: The Columbus Dispatch Video)
A Catholic high school teacher from Columbus, Ohio, who was recently fired after it was revealed that she is in a gay relationship, has received the support of tens of thousands of people petitioning on her behalf.
Carla Hale, a long-time teacher at Bishop Watterson High School, was fired on Holy Thursday, March 20, after an anonymous parent saw an obituary for Hale's mother, which listed her partner's name, Julie. The obituary was then sent to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Columbus, outing Hale for having a gay relationship. The teacher was subsequently fired.
"I'm a private person," Hale told the Columbus Dispatch in a video 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."
As a response, students and supporters of Hale started a petition on Change.org insisting that she be hired back, and has gained over 12,000 signatures as of Thursday afternoon.
"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.
"Well Ms. Hale was my cross country coach sophomore year and she was my physical education teacher this (my senior) year," Garrity added to The Huffington Post in an email. "I started the petition because Ms. Hale was one of the favorite teachers at Watterson, not only one of my favorites, but also many other students. When news of her dismissal got out, many students were upset, especially because of the reason for her dismissal. We all wanted to let our opinions get out and tell the diocese that we were upset with the decision."
Bishop Watterson High School did not respond to phone messages and emails from The Christian Post looking for a comment by press time. The school, which was founded in 1954, has an enrollment of about 1,000 students.
As part of the Roman Catholic diocese, however, it can be noted that the school holds its teachers accountable to following the teachings of the church, and they can be fired for "immorality" or "serious unethical conduct." The Catholic Church teaches that homosexuality is a sin and that marriage should be between a man and a woman.