This story is not a unique event, but instead is simply a rinse and repeat of the same old bigotry by the Catholic Church.
Sue Fustin was a science teacher in Decatur, Illinois. There she was taken on by Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic School. No secrets were kept. When she applied, she was quite open regarding her relationship status. She knew that being legally married to another woman could be a no-way hiring blocker, so before she signed any contract she laid it all out for them …
Fustin said at the time she inquired to the hiring principal, Theresa Bowser, asking if teaching would be an issue because of her marriage.
“And Mrs. Bowser again, very professionally, is like ‘I don’t care. I need a teacher,'” said Fustin.
Fustin signed a contract to teach at the Catholic school.
What then happened is that one of the parents came across a picture of her marriage and sent it to the parish priest, Michael Friedel. He then taps the principal on the shoulder and directed her to fire the science teacher.
At first she was told that she would not be coming back next year, but then that was revised and she was told that she was fired with immediate effect on March 22, 2022.
Hypocrisy By the Truck load
When interviewed about what happened, Sue makes a rather insightful observation …
“I don’t understand all that much more about the Catholic Doctrine, but if people are divorced, but yet still work there. If people are living with other people and have children out of wedlock, but they still work there. I don’t understand why me being gay is any different then those things,”
Things that are a “sin” within Catholicism includes…
- living with another person that you are not married to
- having children without being married
None of the above is a deal-breaker for teaching within any Catholic school.
Being gay however is the current deal-breaker.
Is it legal for a school to fire somebody for being gay?
If it is a private religious school funded by tuition fees and donations, then yes, they can probably get away with this.
I should also add that this is not a simple topic. The law is in flux and it does get very complicated – see here.
Basically this is where things stand …
- Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act prohibits employers from discriminating on the basis of race, color, religion, sex and national origin … but religion has an excemption to this
The neuanced fuzzy bit is this – The above allows them to only hire Catholics if it can be demonstrated that the role needs to be filled by a Catholic to teach from a Catholic perspective. Race and Sex should not be part of that, and yet currently it is in some cases. The whole thing revolves around the interpretation of “sex” within that 1964 law, and so the circuit courts are split on this.
Just to be clear, the sole reason she was fired was due to her marriage, there was no other reason.
Sue asked why she was fired …
“I said, ‘Well does this have to do because I’m married to Deb?’ And father shook his head. And the counsel said this is due to your marital status,”
Many of the parents knew that she was a fantastic teacher and very vocally supported her. Many of the staff also took a similar stance. Unfortunately, Catholicism is not a democracy, hence their support does not in any way influence such decisions.
A Few Further Thoughts
This really should not be a surprise. Such institutionalized immoral bigotry has been commonly practiced within Catholicism for quite some time. Remember, this is the “church” that permitted clerical abuse on a global industrial scale to persist and thrive by simply covering it up. It was never about a few bad apples, the entire institution turned a blind eye to it all.
Parents send their kids to religious schools in the hope that they gain a good “moral” education. When stories such as Sue’s pop up then they really should seriously reconsider that thought and think about the culture that prevails inside.
To put that another way, if you want to train your kids to be bigots, then Catholic schools are indeed for you. If however you don’t want that, then you really should consider an alternative.
Sue did an Interview
There is a nice interview done by the local media on all of this. It is only a few mins long …