Ohio Teacher Quits Over Catholic Contract
A veteran Catholic school teacher in Cincinnati whose son is gay is quitting in protest of a new controversial contract specifying violations of church doctrine.
Molly Shumate, 49, of West Chester near Cincinnati, is the first known teacher of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati's more than 2,200 educators to refuse to sign the new contract, which specifies which violations of Catholic doctrine could put teachers out of a job.
That includes "homosexual lifestyles," abortion, artificial insemination, and public support for any of those causes.
"In my eyes there is nothing wrong with my son," Shumate told The Cincinnati Enquirer, (http://cin.ci/QoY9DJ). "This is what God gave me and what God created and someone I should never be asked to not support."
Shumate said signing the contract would send a message to her son, who's 22, that she doesn't support him. "And I won't do that," she said.
Archdiocese officials defend the contract, saying it doesn't mean that teachers have to sever relationships with gay family members, just that they can't publicly act or speak against the church's teachings.
"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," Catholic School Superintendent Jim Rigg has said. "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 new contract comes after a series of lawsuits and other problems involving educators fired over alleged doctrinal violations in the archdiocese.
Last year, a federal jury found the archdiocese discriminated against a Cincinnati-area teacher fired for violating Catholic doctrine when she became pregnant through artificial insemination and awarded her $171,000. The teacher said she didn't know artificial insemination violated doctrine.
Terms weren't disclosed in last year's settlement of another lawsuit against the archdiocese by an unmarried Dayton-area teacher who said she was fired after becoming pregnant.
The contract has divided huge sections of the region's Catholics. It ignited a raging public battle, including a protest march downtown and online petitions signed by thousands. And this week, 12 billboards opposing the contract went up throughout the area, paid for by the Cincinnati Voice of the Faithfull.
The group has criticized the church's lack of transparency and accountability regarding the sexual abuse of children.
"We believe that the Cincinnati Archdiocese is being dishonest with the teachers by suggesting that the changes to the wording and job description of the teacher ... contract are not that much different from past years," the group's coordinator, Kathy Weyer, said, "What is really happening is that the church is protecting itself from possible future lawsuits."
Each of the Archdiocese's more than 2,200 teachers must sign the contract before the end of the school year if they want to remain employed.
Information from: The Cincinnati Enquirer, http://www.enquirer.com