Students at a Catholic high school have called on their Archbishop to change school policy on same-sex marriage.
The students of Roncalli High School in the US made the appeal to Indianapolis Archbishop Charles C. Thomson.
This comes after a guidance counselor at the school faced dismissal after it was revealed she was married to a woman.
‘Archbishop Thompson ultimately makes the decision on whether or not Ms. Fitzgerald is allowed to hold her position,’ the students said in a statement.
‘Our focus from this point on will be calling on Archbishop Thompson to do what is right.’
Guidance counselor Shelly Fitzgerald has worked at the school for 15-years.
Last week she was placed on leave after a parishioner told school officials of her 2014 marriage to her female partner of 22-years.
Fitzgerald said that school officials told her she risked being fired if she did not dissolve her marriage.
Roncalli officials have defended their position by saying this is as much a contractual dispute as it is a faith-based one, the Indianapolis Star reported.
The school said that employees must sign a contract where they agree to uphold the values of the Catholic Church, including that marriage remain ‘between a man and a woman’.
Outpouring of support
Since being placed on leave, Fitzgerald has received an outpouring of support from local students.
Various Roncalli students placed signs, T-shirts, and flowers in front of the school in a show of solidarity with their guidance counselor.
On Tuesday (21 August), the Archdiocese of Indianapolis posted an open letter addressing the issue.
‘The issue concerning Ms. Fitzgerald’s employment is not about sexual orientation, but about the Church’s teaching that marriage is a covenant between a man and a woman as established and revealed by God,’ the statement read.
The students calling for policy change said that they were ‘disheartened’ by the archbishop’s statement.
‘We are not advocating against the Catholic Church’s teaching on the sinfulness of homosexual actions, but rather advocating for a change in the employment contract to allow Ms. Shelly Fitzgerald and others that might be in similar circumstances to rightfully be employed through the Archdiocese of Indianapolis,’ the students’ statement said in response.
Catholic Schools in the US are exempt from anti-discrimination laws as their employees are considered ministers.