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Lesbian Catholic School Teacher Fired in Ohio

by Jason St. Amand
National News Editor
Friday Apr 19, 2013

A Catholic high school teacher from Ohio was fired after an anonymous person sent the teacher's employers a copy of her mother's obituary, which mentions the teacher has a same-sex partner.

As reported in the Columbus Dispatch, Carla Hale, 57, says she was fired from Watterson High School in the Columbus neighborhood of Clintonville a few weeks after her mother's death. Local NPR station WOSU reoported that Hale was in "total shock" when she learned she was being let go. She said it was, "like your legs had just been cut out from under you."

Bishop Watterson Principal Marian Hutson signed Hale's termination letter, which was given to the teacher on March 28. "I turned to the principal and I said, 'Are we talking like immediately? Am I supposed to leave the building?' And she just, she said, 'Yes.'"

Hale had been a health and physical education teacher at Watterson for 19 years. "To use my mom's obituary, her death, to write this letter," she told WOSU. "Honestly, we wouldn't be in this situation if it wasn't for her death, nor if my partner's name was Chris."

Hale's students, alumni and other supporters quickly responded to the incident and took action once they found out what had happened. The Dispatch notes that, on Monday, a group created a petition on to urge the school administration's to reinstate her. As of this writing, the petition has nearly 14,000 signatures. "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," the petition reads.

Hale, a practicing Methodist, said she felt humbled by the support from students, alumni and others who have heard about the incident. "It's amazing that they've come together and rallied around this situation," she told the newspaper. "I'm in awe of them."

Some students said they knew or suspected that Hale was gay but added she did not bring up her personal life, nor did she discuss gay issues with them. Lindsey Perkins, a 2001 Watterson graduate, called Hale a "wonderful teacher and amazing role model."

"It's just a very poignant time for something like this to happen, and hopefully for people to start realizing that we need to practice acceptance and humility to all people," she said.

Peter Clark, a 2011 Watterson graduate, echoed Perkins' remarks and said the school's decision was "a disgusting play of hypocrisy by the education system that I was once so proud of."

The Dispatch points out that a contract between the Columbus diocese and the Central Ohio Association of Catholic Educators states that teachers can be fired for "immorality" or "serious unethical conduct." Hale has filed a grievance under the terms of the contract and hopes to get her job back.

The teacher's attorney, Tom Tootle, says they are looking into her legal options. "If the school doesn't do the right thing it's certainly conceivable that we could file a complaint with the community relations commission," Tootle told WOSU.

Hale has also seen the support from FreedomOhio, an LGBT rights group. "But for the fact that she is in a committed relationship and it's in her mother's obit, no one would know," Ian James, the organization's co-founder, told the Dispatch. "It seems so inherently wrong and callous to say, 'In addition to losing your mother, you lose your career.'"

An incident mirroring Hale's accorded in 2010 when Lisa Howe, a lesbian soccer coach, was fired from Belmont University in Nashville. Initially, it was reported Howe left on her own accord but news sources revealed that she was pressured into leaving after it was announced the coach and her female partner had decided to become parents.


  • WayGay, 2013-04-19 15:41:39

    She’s a lesbian? You’re kidding.

  • , 2013-04-19 20:37:51

    Once again, more Catholic idiocy.

  • , 2013-04-21 11:05:52

    Any LGBT employee for the Catholics should run now and start searching for a job. Catholics are all about the end of LGBT employees. They do not care, they are not loving. They are out to hang gay men and women. It has become all about the Catholic agenda now.

  • Wayne M., 2013-04-23 20:41:08

    This is the lowest kind of lack of compassion and failure to love as Jesus loved, to fire a person who is an outstanding teacher, at the time when she would already be vulnerable due to the passing of her mother. I thank God I left the Roman "Catholic" Church ten years ago.

  • , 2013-04-23 20:46:18

    Really great comment, Wayne. I agree so much with you.

  • GAG'EM, 2013-04-23 23:08:29

    It’s amazing that any decent person in this country can still call him/herself a Christian. Forget bigotry, this is just the ultimate in idiocy not to mention the most blatant definition of hypocrisy I’ve ever seen. That the institution that has facilitated and perpetuated the rape of thousands (or millions) of children over several decades or even centuries would actually fire a respected and beloved teacher for the "immorality and unethical conduct" of being in a committed same-sex relationship is incomprehensible. I do not condemn Catholics as individuals, but I don’t understand how anyone still believes that the Catholic Church as an institution has any moral authority whatsoever. I’d be ashamed to call myself a Catholic.

  • Pastor T, 2013-04-25 15:28:51

    Dear Carla, first and foremost I am so sorry that you, your partner and the rest of your family is suffering from the loss of your mother. I can’t begin to imagine what that may feel like as well as the lack of compassion with outrageous injustice that you are going through. Please know of my prayers for you and for your family. I pray that you have a spiritual support system for yourself and that you are surrounded by Christians that are giving, loving and lifting you up during this time. I am so sorry that your employer does not see all the years of dedication and faithfulness that you gave. All the lives that were touched by your leadership and care over the years will never be taken away!! Jesus came to save us from religion and promoted relationship and Grace. I pray that you will find comfort in our Lord and the overwhelming discouragement you and others may feel at this time will be lifted in knowing that God loves you and that through the cross he died for "all" people. I will also continue to pray for the situation at hand and hope that God will intercede and soften hearts. Receive the victory that is already yours. Again, my prayers go out to you during this difficult time. Pastor T.M. Hines, Emmanuel Fellowship Church, Akron, Ohio

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