Catholic teacher comes out days before she retires

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

Canadian vice-principal Joan Grundy spent decades advocating for LGBT students.

The teacher at St Mary’s High School in Kitchener, Ontario, said she feared coming out openly while working at the school, as that would leave her open to “hateful projections of people who deem being gay an abomination”.

She also knew she wanted to stay within Catholic schools, to help and support young LGBT Catholics who might otherwise never receive that support.

She told The Record: “These students resonate with me. We have a shared experience of pain and hurt.

“I went into teaching to make a difference in kids’ lives and to turn my back on them didn’t feel right.”

Ms Grundy founded a program called “Kindness Matters” to teach students about respect for each other, and often invited gay former students back to discuss their experiences with the school.

Her sexuality was something of an open secret – she says “I never felt put down” – but she always feared discussing it openly after a gay male friend was fired from his job at a Catholic school after marrying his partners.

But now, she says: “I’m proud to have represented my board. I’m proud to have represented LGBTQ students. Now it’s time to represent myself more honestly.”

A Catholic school in Canada was recently taken to a human rights tribunal over accusations of homophobia, and another school was criticised for not allowing two young girls to do a project on gay rights – a decision that was later reversed.