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