Students at Roncalli High School in Indianapolis, Indiana have protested against the dismissal of their guidance counsellor Shelly Fitzgerald who was outed by an anonymous person requested a public copy of her marriage certificate.
Fitzgerald has been married to her partner for 22 years but had to keep it a secret due to her workplace holding Catholic values.
The Indianapolis Star reported that Fitzgerald was given a choice to end her marriage, resign, or be dismissed and that she was later fired.
The school posted a public statement that fuelled a pro-LGBT+ protest by students in support of Fitzgerald.
It stated: “Catholic schools are ministries of the Catholic Church, and teachers, school guidance counsellors and administrators are vital ministers in sharing the mission of the Church.
“[Staff members] are expected to be role models and are expressly charged with leading students toward Christian maturity and with teaching the Word of God.
“When the expectations of a contract are not being met, the employee and the school will attempt to reach a resolution so that the contractual requirements are fulfilled.”
It added: “Roncalli does not discuss specific details of school personnel matters. Roncalli takes seriously its responsibility to treat all employees fairly and to not discuss their employment record in a public forum.
“All employees must be afforded the right to have their individual situations reviewed in a fair, professional and private manner.”
In response to this, a group of students met with the Archbishop and have since released a statement calling on the Archbishop to “do what is right” and reappoint their “beloved” guidance counsellor.
In the statement, one of the students said that they were “not advocating against the Catholic Church’s teaching on the sinfulness of homosexual actions” but that they were advocating for a “change in the employment contract.”
The Star has reported that Fitzgerald has hired an attorney and she shared a heartfelt post on social media.
I ask that you pray for my family, for change in the world, and know I have absolutely loved my job for the past 15 years.
In a social media post, she said: “You may hear some things coming up soon and I wanted to let you know the truth and what’s going on.
“For those of you who I haven’t shared everything with in the past, I’m sorry.
“For the past 15 years I’ve been at Roncalli, I have had to hide my 22-year relationship with someone who I love very much and adore sharing parenthood with. But I’ve had to stay hidden and quiet from my friends or risk losing my job.
“Well, today it’s all coming to an end. Someone sought out my marriage certificate from Hancock county and turned it into [the school].”
She added: “I let them know I have no intention of divorcing, no intention of quitting, and no intention of not telling anyone why I have to leave the job I’ve loved so much.
“I ask that you pray for my family, for change in the world, and know I have absolutely loved my job for the past 15 years.
“The thing I have always loved most about Roncalli is the students speaking up and doing the right thing.”
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