Still grieving the loss of her mother, Carla Hale was fired from her job as a high school physical education teacher – after 19 years – because the name of her lesbian partner had appeared in her mother’s obituary.
But she is fighting her dismissal from Bishop Watterson High School in Columbus, Ohio, and has tremendous public support from students, former students, parents and even the mayor of Columbus.
”This is not the end,’ Hale said during a press conference this week. ‘The decision I made to acknowledge Julie, my partner, in my mother’s obituary is not immoral.’
But the Columbus Diocese, alerted to the obituary by an angry parent, disagrees. Hale was told this week that she was not fired for being a lesbian but because the spousal relationship in the obituary ‘is against church teaching.’
She had a five minute meeting with the school principal this week to discuss the grievance she filed seeking reinstatement and her request was denied.
Hale is appealing that decision to the Committee of the Central Ohio Association of Catholic Educators and plans to file a complaint with the Community Relations Committee of Columbus.
‘It’s kind of baffling that someone would take an obituary and use it in such a mean-spirited manner,’ she said.
As of today, more than 60,000 had signed an online petition demanding Hale’s reinstatement.
‘My emotions are on such a spectrum – from gratitude to overwhelming amazement,’ she said. ‘The phone calls and the emails and the texts I’ve received from former students and parents, that’s what gets me through honestly. That, and a lot of walks with my dog.’
She added: ‘This is happening for a reason and I have to be supportive of all of these who are standing up on my behalf.’