Skip to comments.POV: Why Catholic Schools Have the Right to Fire Married Gay Staff
Posted on 02/05/2014 1:37:05 PM PST by Mrs. Don-o
Courts, and integrity, say schools entitled to enforce beliefs
The New York Times recently ran a front-page story about a Catholic school outside Seattle that fired an administrator who married another man. Just a week later, the front page of the Boston Globe featured a story about a Massachusetts Catholic school that canceled its job offer to a prospective food services director when it learned that he was in a same-sex marriage. Predictably, the tone of both accounts, and the great majority of those quoted, were sympathetic toward the victims of these decisions.
While I understand this instinctive reaction, Id like to point out the implications of limiting the freedom of nonpublic schools to choose whom to employ. First, a word about my own background. After serving more than 20 years as the Massachusetts official responsible for enforcing the law against discrimination in schools, I became a professor at Boston University and was the Universitys representative on the Governors Commission on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Youth. Currently, I serve on the state advisory committee to the US Commission on Civil Rights. I am not Catholic.
I am also vice president of the Geneva-based NGO OIDEL, which promotes educational freedom around the world. Experience with many countries has convinced me that we should be very careful about limiting the autonomy of nonpublic schoolsand, indeed, of public schools, but that is another discussionto preserve and express distinctive visions of the nature of a flourishing human life and how to promote it in children.
Educational freedom, both the freedom to provide education and the freedom to choose a school for ones children, is protected as a basic human right by several international covenants, as well as by decisions of the US Supreme Court. These freedoms are interdependent: that of parents to choose is meaningless unless there are accessible schools with different approaches to education, and that of schools (and of educators) to create such distinctive approaches is frustrated if they must serve families whose children are assigned involuntarily, and thus must provide a lowest-common-denominator education that no one will object to.
If schools are not allowed to differ on the basis of different understandings of the Good Life, as faith-based schools and also many independent secular schools do, they will differ only on test scores, and parents with more resources will always find a way to get their children into schools with higher scores, either through moving to affluent areas or by paying tuition. A nationwide study found that because they offer a distinctive education, private schools in every region of the country were more racially integrated than residence-based public schools.
But schools, whether private or choice-based public schools like the charter schools that have been so successful in Boston, cannot maintain a clear focus on their distinctive educational mission unless free to select teachers who are wholeheartedly committed to that mission, be it Montessori, Catholic, Jewish, or a focus on the arts. Without a team of staff who agree on their shared mission and can work together on the basis of mutual trust, such schools of choice might as well pack it in.
The issue of the right of Catholic schools, specifically, to employ only teachers who in their teaching and lives (to the extent these are visible to students) do not undermine Catholic principles has been litigated in many countries. The principle on which that right has been upheld is often called the duty of loyalty: the freedom of the individual teacher to dissent must be considered in the context of the rights of other teachers who have chosen to work in a particular kind of school, and of parents who want such a school for their children.
In American cases, the courts have generally held that teachers in faith-based schools are similar to clergy in other religious institutions, and that there is thus a ministerial exception to the application of antidiscrimination laws. This applies to the suburban Seattle school: the vice-principal who was fired was in a leadership position and had willingly signed a contract promising to abide by Church teachings in order to be an example for students.
This does not apply in the same way, it seems to me, in the Massachusetts case, since a food service job (except in an Orthodox Jewish or Islamic school) could not reasonably be considered to involve upholding religious teachings.
Bottom line: Catholic and other faith-based schools should be applauded rather than condemned for ensuring that they and all of their staff present a message consistent with their beliefs. That is what integrity requires.
Charles Glenn (GRS87) is a School of Education professor of educational leadership and policy. Among his numerous books is The American Model of State and School: An Historical Inquiry (Bloomsbury Academic, 2012) and The Ambiguous Embrace: Government and Faith-Based Schools and Social Agencies (New Forum Books, 2000). He can be reached at email@example.com
Author Charles Glenn's qualifications:
First, a word about my own background. After serving more than 20 years as the Massachusetts official responsible for enforcing the law against discrimination in schools, I became a professor at Boston University and was the Universitys representative on the Governors Commission on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Youth. Currently, I serve on the state advisory committee to the US Commission on Civil Rights. I am not Catholic.
I am also vice president of the Geneva-based NGO OIDEL, which promotes educational freedom around the world.
It's impressive that he sees so clearly that the freedom of religious people and private education trumps the LGBT agenda.
Parents pay a boatload of money to send kids to these schools because they are supposedly aligned with Catholic teaching.
I’d like to reprint this and send it around to people who don’t “get” how liberty actually works.
You wouldn't marry someone (knowingly) that you knew would be drawn in so many love/affection directions, would you?
I mean ... y'gutt'a protect your ... YOUR interests ... right ?
But the LGBT agenda is being promoted not only by these zealots but by socialists who aim to tear down the existing social order and abolish the prerogative of parents to educate their children as they see fit.
Yeah -— that’s why I say “Hooray” for these Catholic schools that actually practice the “free exercise of religion.” The ones that have given up their Catholic identity should refund tuitions to all the students who didn’t get what they paid for.
Boston and New York - two urban cesspools we would be better off without.
Why are they employing gay married staff in the first place?
The biggest problem lies with the poorly catechized parents and students who object to the firings, on the basis of 'fairness'.
I think the guy only recently got married, AFTER he’d been working at the school for a while.
Socialists have a lot of traditional enemies, one of them being the Church. That is because they want to replace the idea of God with an all-powerful State, so that government can become the moral authority instead. And once that happens, terrible things usually ensue.
of course they do
faith-based institutions have a right to employee standards that meet the mission needs of the institution
for a catholic institution it can conclude, in accord with the Catholic position on marriage, that the partner in a “same-sex” union does not meet that standard, and as an education institution it does not want the education mission to wrongly imply that a “same-sex” partner does meet the moral standards all their employees or expected to meet
they - the individual - is perfectly free to work in their profession somewhere else; their Liberty, in terms of their “same-sex” relationship is not a shelter from the Liberty of a Catholic institutuon to refuse to countenance that relationship
God’s going to replaced as the object of worship, alright. But it won’t be by the fondest wish of the marxists-the state. It will be a person indwelt by Satan, and those left on earth will have one choice-to worship him or die. This is the world the statists and the globalists are working towards, whether they know it or not. They are going to get a lot more than they bargained for.
The gay War on Religion...what’s unfortunate is students in these faith schools standing with the gay attack on religious freedom. Maybe they should be expelled and be in a school which has no traditional values.
Is there morality clause in contract that only thing I think of it did he sign it or what I think catholic school may have legal loophole out of it getting sue
Here’s what puzzles me. I’ve watched this story unfold day after day on our local news and there are always crowds of students standing in front of the school demonstrating to get this man hired back. If this is their position, why are they wasting their time and their parents’ money going to Catholic school? And if the parents are allowing the kids to protest like this, what sort of Catholics are they, anyway?
...or the guy was just applying for a job (not yet hired) and was turned down because of his public, manifest homosexual conduct.
and the great majority of those quoted, were sympathetic toward the victims of these decisions.
These people were victims of their own decisions to lead a perverted lifestyle.
An employer has every right not to hire or to fire.
The problem with Marxism is basically this: it’s not about what they want, it’s about what they want to destroy. I’ve heard socialists go on about how they hate capitalism, religion, the rich, etc, etc. Ocasionally they throw in racism for emphasis. Seldom or never do they talk about how socialism is supposed to work. I don’t think they even know for the most part, it’s just a word they can use for their imagined solution to inequality. Who enforces socialism? Someone must or it will collapse back into capitalism. And whoever enforces it is going to have absolute power, because they will control the resources that everyone depends on for survival.
Somehow I am thinking they are not referring to the Catholic Church as a victim in this instance, even though the Church has moral clauses and requires applicants to practice the faith (or at least not violate Church tenets). Therefore, the homosexual applicant lied on his application, thereby victimizing the Church.