US: Fired lesbian teacher tells LGBT youth to have hope

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A lesbian teacher seeking reinstatement at the Catholic school which fired her for naming her partner in an obituary has said she hopes the support she has received is inspiring to young people.

In March Carla Hale was fired from Bishop Watterson High School in Ohio after her partner, Julie Uncapher, was named in her mother’s obituary.

An anonymous letter sent to the school’s diocese by a parent led to Ms Hale, who had taught physical education at the school for 19 years, being sacked.

Although Ohio does not have state laws prohibiting anti-LGBT discrimination, the city of Columbus, where Bishop Watterson is based, does. Ms Hale announced yesterday that she would take her case to the Columbus City Community Relations Commission.

Along with Ms Hale’s own efforts to be reinstated there has also been public outcry on her behalf, and a petition to have her job returned to her currently has over 57,000 signatures.

Ms Hale told Outlook Columbus she hoped that LGBT youth would be encouraged by the support she had received, rather than discouraged by her sacking.

“It’s one of those subjects that can’t ever be discussed [in Catholic schools], but I’m hoping now they can actually see what this whole situation has created, that there is a lot more support out there than they could have even imagined,” she said.

“Hopefully that’s what stays and that’s what endures and continues on from this whole situation.”

She explained: “I was informed that I was not terminated because I was gay, but … the spousal relationship that was publicized in the newspaper, which happened to be an obituary, is against church teaching.”

Her attorney, Thomas Tootle, stated that there was little distinction between the two.

The diocese said in a statement yesterday: “The Catholic church respects the fundamental dignity of all persons but also must insist that those in its employ respect the tenets of the church. Personnel who choose to publicly espouse relationships or principles that are contrary to the teachings of the Catholic church cannot, ultimately, remain in the employ of the church.”