DISPATCHES FROM PENNSYLTUCKY: PA School Teacher Says He Was Fired “Because I’m Gay” [UPDATED]

michael griffin pa school teacher fired for being gayIt takes a lot to drag me to the keyboard to blog on a Saturday, but I heard some news this morning that was so infuriating I had to share. Chris Covone, one of our LGBT Six-Word memoirists, emailed to tell me about a former teacher of his at Holy Ghost Prep in Bensalem, Pa., who “was abruptly fired after filing for a marriage license with his partner of 12 years.” ABC News reports:

Michael Griffin [who has taught French and Spanish at Holy Ghost Prep for 12 years ] says he emailed the principal of Holy Ghost Prep earlier in the week saying he may be late Friday, that he was applying for a marriage license. After an in-service day he says he was called into the office of School President Father James McCloskey, along with Principal Jeffrey Danilak.

Griffin explains, “He said, ‘It’s not really a secret here that you’re gay.’ I said, ‘Correct.’ He said, ‘I assume this is a same sex marriage.’ ‘Yes.’ He said if I go through with it, he had no choice but to terminate my position.'”

In tears, he left. His over a decade-long tenure at Holy Ghost was over.

“I really didn’t think that it would happen. At our school we talk about it’s a community  our motto is ‘One heart, one mind.'”

His partner, Vincent Giannetto, tells Action News, ‘We applied this morning and on the same day he’s fired from his job. So it kind of flipped things upside down for us.”

So far, Holy Ghost has refused to comment on the situation, but Griffin points out the teachers’ code of conduct that may be the root of his firing: “That, although, the School welcomes teachers from other denominations and recognizes their rights to religious freedom, as employees of a Catholic institution, all teachers are expected to uphold lifestyles compatible with the moral teaching of the Roman Catholic Church.”

Covone tells me that, “The man who was wrongfully fired was one of the greatest teachers and influences in so many students’ lives, and this his termination is truly disgraceful.” He and a host of other students, alumni and teachers have started a support group on Facebook. At post time, the page had already racked up 2,233 names.

Right now, future plans are up in the air for Griffin, who told ABC that even if he’s eventually offered his job back, “The school to me has shown their true colors so I don’t know if I… I certainly don’t want to work there again after I’ve seen how they treated me.”

 UPDATED [12/8/2013, 2:42 p.m.]: Fr. James McCloskey, the headmaster at Holy Ghost Prep finally made a statement about the situation, telling NBC 10 that , “Unfortunately, this decision contradicts the terms of his teaching contract at our school, which requires all faculty and staff to follow the teachings of the Church as a condition of their employment. … In discussion with Mr. Griffin, he acknowledged that he was aware of this provision, yet he said that he intended to go ahead with the ceremony. Regretfully, we informed Mr. Griffin that we have no choice but to terminate his contract effective immediately.”

UPDATED [12/9/2013, 10:44 a.m.]: Headmaster follows up official school statement with an email to alumni. Read it here.


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  • KW

    As an HGP Alum myself, I am deeply disappointed in my alma mater’s actions and I know many of my old classmates feel the same way. We’re standing with Mr. Griffin.

    • neil allen

      If he raped a child, they’d certainly hide him.

      Last year, Msgr Lynn testified in court that he destroyed evidence of 37 known pedophile priests in the Catholic church in 1994, at the request of Cardinal Bevilacqua.

      Save and protect the child rapists? OF COURSE! That’s the Catholic religion.

      However, they fight the gays with the help of 400,000 priests who have never had sex with a woman.,,,,,

  • James Bradford

    The bigger issue is that this is still a legal firing in the state of PA. When you live in Philly, such a gay friendly part of the state, you forget how fucked up the rest of the state is.

    • KD

      Bensalem is only 15 minutes outside of Philly, but more importantly Holy Ghost Prep’s questionable actions do not represent Bensalem!

      • KD

        And by questionable I mean reprehensible

      • jd

        Philly is about 30 seconds from Bensalem – if you crawl. 15 min.?
        Anyway.. Love those silly bitch ass priests. – this is what happens when you are unnaturally told to refrain from sexually activity -bizarre, archaic, catholic doctrine. – Hide the ped’s boy’s! PS,
        Religion? you can go away now.. jigs up, no one is buying your fairy tale..

  • 2011

    I too an am alum of Holy Ghost Prep. Without question I am conflicted about the publicity surrounding this situation. I do not feel that the decision to fire Mr Griffin reflects in the merest the morals instilled in me at Holy Ghost Prep. I fully support Mr. Griffin and his decision. With that being said, I hate to see the institution that made me go up in flames for acting in accordance with the faith of which they are based/founded (Roman Catholicism). It was not Mr. Griffin’s sexual orientation that led to the termination of his teaching position, rather, his decision to go through with marriage – an action that does not fall in line with Roman Catholic teaching. While I do not agree with this aspect of RC teaching, I will say that it needs to be known that this is why Mr. Griffin was fired. Again, I am not in support of the decision that HG has made, and I support Mr. Griffin, his partner, and his decision to marry. On top of this, quite frankly, the fact that HGP is not part of the archdiocese does leave me wondering why they could not change the part of their faculty handbook asking that faculty members act in accordance with Roman Catholic teaching (or make some exception (for an alumn, teacher of 12 years), or not jump to termination of Griffin’s position, etc.). Whose to say that in another 20 years the Roman Catholic church will not change their stance on gay marriage? In fact, I think the real question is whether or not it will take that long…

    • Andrij Harasewych

      You are 100% incorrect. It WAS Mr. Griffin’s sexual orientation that led to the termination of his teaching position. Plain and simple. Stop trying to twist the situation so that you can justify the actions of the school. It’s about time the Church joined the rest of us in the 21st century.

    • Dave

      The Church will not change their stance. They cannot. You will never see it happen.

      • MoPhilly

        Just like they would never agree that the world is round? One day it will happen; just way after everyone else on the planet does it.

    • jd

      Have you ever considered your “morals” or your moral compus was instilled in you by others, or your environment outside of campus? say your guardians? or your genetic disposition? – So a bunch of individuals who take a bizarre, unnatural vow, really? instilled? Interesting and quite convoluted.. stating that Mr. Griffin was fired because he “went through” with his choice of getting married. is that not just a twisted way of judging him, his natural choice to commit to a loved one? Funny, a man who so unnaturally chooses to not have a sexual relationship with anyone, condemns a man who chooses to do the opposite? If your god or anyone else’s intended a man NOT to have a sexual relationship.. according to the catholic doctrine, wouldn’t the priest be born without a penis? testicles?
      And those poor repressed sisters/nuns be void of a vagina? uterus? – Lets see what science has proved;) if it wasn’t for science, your church would still have you believe the world is flat.. – brilliant! and good luck..

  • Jessica Papp

    its okay for the catholic church to have little boys as sex slaves, but god forbid if one of their teachers is openly gay!!!

    • Dave

      The Catholic Church has done more than any other institution in the last decade to prevent this from happening again. In fact their program is being used as a model to protect children. Percentage wise the incidence is much higher among Protestant pastors. Quit perpetuating lies.

      • jd

        Percentage wise? Really? that’s your reply.. How about percentage wise, no other non profit/corporation has ever had such a pedophile issue. Really? you went all silly on the catholic – lite (prots)
        How incredibly ridiculous and stupid. Quit perpetuating stupidity..

  • Alan Gilfoy

    In a way, this sucks, but in a way, as a private school, it’s their business, especially if there’s a contract clause about his private life.

  • Johnworth

    YOu really should either 1) do your homework and get the facts right, or stop spreading falsehoods. He was NOT fired for being gay. He has worked there for 12 years, and his employers knew he was gay.

    As a longtime outspoken SUPPORTER of marriage equality, I also understand that HGP is a religious institution. Anyone seeking employment should go into it with eyes wide open… that working for a religious institution may require you to adhere to the rules of the religion. He was NOT fired for his sexual orientation. He has been gay the whole time he was there. His employers obviously knew that, and it did not matter to them. When he took the step of publically flaunting his violation of church doctrine he was fired.

    You can’t seek employment from a religious organization and then publically engage in activity that goes against the teachings of the religion.

    It’s simple law that has been upheld repeatedly by the courts–all the way to the supreme court–and it’s common sense.

    • inturnaround

      Of course he was fired for his sexual orientation. Say whatever it is you need to make it okay for your conscience to allow you to sleep at night, but he was fired for being gay.

      He couldn’t have been fired if he was a Imam who also taught French. That’s protected. How is who is loves and marries the business of anyone else, especially his employer.

      And listen to yourself…”publicly flaunting”. Do you realize how condescending that sounds and is? We don’t say that a man and a woman are “publicly flaunting” their straight marriage in our faces. We just say they got married.

      We must live in a world where we are going to disagree with people. We need to live with each other and accept one another. This is someone’s livelihood and it should not be up to the whims of a church that can’t even agree within itself what they should do about all this. Pennsylvania employment law should ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation across the board.

    • Andrij Harasewych

      An activity which “goes against the teachings of God” based on a stack of fairy tales written by man.

    • jd

      A. your an idiot.
      B. Bizarre, masochistic, against the (Laws:)) of nature, unnatural, lie.
      Priests and nun’s both live a twisted existence.
      C. The Easter bunny does not exist either.
      D. You really went all convoluted and winded in your post.

    • Steve Kass

      Father McCloskey said Griffin was fired because he violated “his teaching contract at our school, which requires all faculty and staff to follow the teachings of the Church as a condition of their employment.”

      You say he was fired because “he took the step of publically [sic] flaunting his violation of church doctrine.”

      So you’re saying a) McCloskey is a hypocrite, because he knew McCloskey was violating the contract for years, and b) violating contracts and being a hypocrite are both fine so long as it’s kept hush-hush.

      So do i have it right? Is it fine to violate the teaching contract, and fine for the school to know you’re violating it, so long as the violation and the school’s hypocrisy aren’t public? (And it’s fine for McCloskey to lie about this all?) And you’re ok with that kind of role model for high school kids?

    • MoPhilly

      So what about the teachers who are divorced and remarried. How is it that they are not fired under the employee contract? Or the ones on birth control? Oh, and let’s look at all the other “moral” religious laws they’re not enforcing: women aren’t supposed to be allowed to teach, first off; second, I’m sure those teachers wear clothing of mixed materials, tsk, tsk; I bet some of them even eat shellfish! Translation, he was fired for being gay. Johnworth, find the Wizard and ask for a brain, please.

  • Anon

    Essentially, the message here is: he should have lied to the priest/boss about why he would be late to work that day. In doing so, he would have kept his job, and HGP wouldn’t have to waste their weekend working on reputation management and PR damage control. For the moron who suggests he was “publically [sic] flaunting..” anything – he was quietly filing for a marriage license in a state where the court declared it’s legal. The Catholic Church better catch up because many of us who are left are hanging on by a string at this point. I’m tired of hateful judgement in response to someone declaring love for another. Who cares who people love? They LOVE. That is the point, no?

  • Jimmy

    what’s he doing working for a place which condemns him anyway???

  • Andrij Harasewych

    Facebook page unavailable…

  • lisamaniaci

    This decision is in total opposition to The Pope’s message on the inclusion of all in the Catholic Church. Shame on you, HGP administration.

    • Dave

      For the record Pope Francis has excommunicated priests who support same sex marriage. They are not in total opposition. Quit twisting church teachings to further your agenda.

      • jd

        Grab a history book Dave.. clear out all the fairy tales and free yourself of all that repressed doctrine and group think, and read.
        Hold on.. lets first keep it light.. first study the true history and facts behind a great hero of Roman Catholicism – Christopher Columbus.
        Oh Sh$t! You will scratch your head, wonder about children getting a day off, and those silly white sales.. – Read factual history, then go ahead and read the churches version of their super hero Chris..
        Hopefully the reality of it all, and the paradigm shift your brain experiences doesn’t make you lose your faith.. mind:) – Good luck.

  • HGP Alum

    An Update: The Facebook page in support of Mr. Griffin was made “secret” by students to ensure that nobody could publicly post negatively about the school. The decision made was an unjust and immoral mistake on the part of the administration and those above them. As it has already been made clear by so many, the decision does not reflect the principles that the school is founded upon. Students, faculty, and alumni stand by the morals and principles of brotherhood taught at Holy Ghost Prep, showing that the true atmosphere of acceptance at Holy Ghost Prep lives in the students and great teachers, not in the shortsightedness of the administration. We continue to stand in support of Michael Griffin, and hope that the administration will take all necessary measures to rectify the wrongs they have done to this great school and one of it’s best teachers.

  • SanDiego1979

    I wonder if Holy Ghost Prep has fired anyone for doing any of these things? If not they should get to it right away as we cannot have these sins polluting the hearts and minds of our youth! http://www.11points.com/Books/11_Things_The_Bible_Bans,_But_You_Do_Anyway

  • jd

    Deeeeep breath.. Silly old Father.. Write all “the rules” you want, gonna be quite the boomerang flying back to his silliness. Can only imagine how justifiably low the alum. donations will be this xmas and the year to come;) CHA – CHING… watch how quickly the head ped hiders reverse this. – idiots.. love it.

  • Nikolai

    Who writes these headlines? Nobody gets fired for being a homosexual. Professionals get fired for violating their profession’s standards.

  • Conrad
  • 1969

    I agree with most of my fellow alumni that HGP’s president made an ethical mistake in this case – and violated the Spiritan principles that are the hallmark of a Holy Ghost education. I am very disappointed with the school and stand with Mr. Griffin and his partner. I am left wondering why Fr. McCloskey made the decision he did, given his longstanding knowledge of Mr. Griffin’s relationship. On the surface, the stated reason is that Mr.G. violated his contract, but I would not be surprised if pressure was exerted (by some parents? some alumni? superiors in the Holy Ghost order?). G Philly needs to put an investigative reporter on the case.
    I will wait and see how this evolves before contributing any more money to my alma mater.

  • Joe Jones

    The marriage that Mr. G. entered into is a civil contract between two consenting adults. As such, it does not violate the Church’s teaching about Gay marriage as a holy sacrament. Churches have the right to recognize civil marriages between same sex couples just as it does when divorced people marry. They have the right not to recognize Mr. G.’s marriage as a sacrament, but not to terminate his employment for entering into a civil contract any more than they would terminate a divorcee for a civil marriage that is also not recognized by the church.