An Ohio Catholic schoolteacher from Cincinnati decided to quit her job rather than sign a new contract that speaks out against homosexual lifestyles. She explained that she is doing so in support of her son, who is gay, though school officials said the contract does not ask people to abandon their family members.
"Our culture is changing rapidly in this area, and many of our school employees, including me, have family members who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender," said Catholic School Superintendent Jim Rigg. "As Christians, we are called to love and serve all people. … While the church's stance on homosexual marriage is well-known, this does not mean that our teachers will be asked to cast away loved family members."
The teacher, Molly Shumate, told The Cincinnati Enquirer about her son, Zachery: "In my eyes there is nothing wrong with my son. This is what God gave me and what God created and someone I should never be asked to not support."
She added, "If my son were to say to me, 'will you go somewhere with me that is supported or run by gays and lesbians,' I would have to tell him no, according to that contract. And if my picture was taken, what would happen?"
Shumate, 49, received the new contract from the Cincinnati Archdiocese earlier this year, which includes a number of morality clauses corresponding to Roman Catholic Church beliefs.
The text of the contract, which was shared by WCPO Cincinnati, states that teachers must agree "to exemplify Catholic principles and to refrain from any conduct or lifestyle which would reflect discredit on or cause scandal to the School or be in contradiction to Catholic doctrine or morals."
When listing out such conducts and lifestyles, it reads: "improper use of social media/communication, public support of or publicly living together outside marriage, public support of or sexual activity out of wedlock, public support of or homosexual lifestyle, public support of or use of abortion, public support of or use of a surrogate mother, public support of or use of in vitro fertilization or artificial insemination, public membership in organizations whose mission and message are incompatible with Catholic doctrine or morals, and/or flagrant deceit or dishonesty."
Shumate, who has been teaching in Hamilton County for 14 years, said signing the contract would fee like "telling my son I've changed my mind, that I don't support him as I did. And I won't do that."
The new contracts have been protested in Cincinnati with billboards, online petitions and a protest march, but archdiocese officials say that opponents have misunderstood the situation.
"It's a bit frustrating to us that some of the organized opposition to our new contract language has misstated its intentions and its implications," said Cincinnati Archdiocese spokesman Dan Andriacco.
"First of all, nobody who signed this year's contract or last year's contract should hesitate to sign the 2014-2015 agreement. All say the same thing – that the teacher will not publicly act or speak against the teachings of the Catholic Church," said Andriacco.
The Archdiocese of Cincinnati has previously been challenged by school staff on its moral mandates, including a 2013 case which sided with a 34-year-old gay teacher, who the jury said was wrongly fired for becoming pregnant by artificial insemination.
The federal jury ordered the archdiocese to pay $171,000 to Christa Dias, who was fired in October 2010 from Holy Family and St. Lawrence schools in East Price Hill after she revealed that she had gotten pregnant through artificial insemination, which goes against Roman Catholic Church teachings.