People gather outside Marseille's town hall to attend a demonstration to support the passage of the same-sex marriage bill in Marseille, April 23, 2013. (Photo : REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier)
A gay teacher has filed a lawsuit against an Ohio Catholic school for being fired after school officials discovered she was gay from her mother's published obituary which included the name of her partner.
Carla Hale, 57, spent the last 19 years as a physical education teacher at Bishop Watterson High School. However, she said she was let go because her relationship is against Biblical teachings.
She plans to file a complaint this week with the city of Columbus, which prohibits firings based on sexual orientation, her attorney Thomas Tootle stated Monday. She also filed a grievance that is now being reviewed by a union representing teachers in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Columbus.
Hale said she was fired during Holy Week in March after an anonymous letter sent to school administrators drew attention to the obituary published in The Columbus Dispatch. Signed by "a concerned parent," the letter reads:
"My daughter came home and told me that one of the gym teacher's mother had died. She asked me to pray for her. When we looked in the obituaries, I was shocked by what I saw. It had her teacher's name and that of her 'spouse' listed. It was two females!"
Hale, who is Methodist, was informed about two weeks after her mother's death that the school was investigating, but she never had a chance to discuss it with school leaders, her attorney said.
"It's kind of baffling that someone would take an obituary and use it, to me, in such a mean-spirited manner," Hale said at a news conference last week.
The Diocese of Columbus released a statement saying, "All Catholic school personnel at the outset of their employment agree that they will abide by the rules, regulations and policies of the Catholic Diocese, including respecting the moral values advanced by the teachings of Christ."
Students have rallied behind Hale following her termination from the school. An online petition seeking her reinstatement has collected about 100,000 supporters.