By Anna Cruzen, art major and Cor Jesu alumna
Discrimination of any kind is not okay, yet another Catholic school fired gay faculty this summer. Sadly, this happened at my high school, Cor Jesu Academy, just a few miles from Webster University.
In July, the school learned two faculty members, a gym teacher and a lacrosse coach, applied for a joint mortgage. Assuming this meant the two were a couple, the administration asked them to resign or else they’d be fired.
Stories like this one are not uncommon. Catholic schools strive to uphold church doctrines which dictate that — although being gay is not sinful — engaging in homosexual activity is. The faculty contracts at Catholic schools, including Cor Jesu, contain a section about serving as Catholic role models, which means living by the Catholic church doctrine. This doctrine also looks down upon birth control, premarital sex, divorce and sleeping through church on Sunday, among many other things.
From an administration standpoint, it would be difficult to enforce many aspects of the doctrine. To quote an alumna who posted on a Facebook page that supports LGBT members of the Cor Jesu community, “… employment decisions made on the basis of sexual orientation at a Catholic institution are inherently discriminatory because it’s choosing to enforce part of a contract in one area (sexual orientation) and not others (divorce or birth control).” The Cor Jesu administration specifically chose to enforce the rule in this case, but not in others.
Having attended the school, I can think of at least one case where a teacher got a divorce and is still employed. In light of the information available, the decision to fire these two women was discriminatory. Unlike other St. Louis Catholic schools, which are Archdiocesan and could be forced to uphold doctrine, Cor Jesu is private and made this decision independently.
“The time for discrimination is never, and it needs to end now.”
Because Cor Jesu is a private religious institution, it’s unlikely these two women will receive any justice. That being said, this situation still brought much-needed attention to the discrimination the LGBT community faces in the workplace. As an alumna of Cor Jesu, I am disappointed in the administration, but I am very proud of the alumnae movement that formed as a result of this issue.
Within a week of the two women being fired, a Facebook group comprised of alumnae formed to address the injustice and send letters to the Cor Jesu administration. Over 2,000 alumnae followed the page, and many wrote the school that they would cease all donations due to the termination. Some people wrote that they wouldn’t allow their daughters to attend after this blatant discrimination.
What happened to these women was unjust, but at least some good came from it. There is now more vocal support for the Cor Jesu LGBT community. The current students and faculty feel supported, and the administration has been warned the time for discrimination is never, and it needs to end now.