A Catholic high school teacher in Ohio said she was fired after being outed as gay in her mother's obituary, and now her students are launching a petition to get her back.
Carla Hale had been a physical education teacher at Bishop Watterson High School in north Columbus for 19 years, but was fired last month when her mother's obituary listed the name of her female partner.
Hale was called into her boss' office and told that an anonymous parent had complained about her sexuality. She was later fired under a diocesan policy which states that Catholic school personnel are expected to be examples of moral behavior.
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"I was totally shocked. I mean, I think it was just one of those where everything was drained out of me,"
Hale told NBC's Columbus affiliate. "Bishop Watterson is an amazing place to be, with the staff, the faculty, it's a very positive environment. If it wouldn't have been for my mom's obituary and my partner's name being Julie and not Chris or Pat or whomever, I wouldn't be in this situation right now. It would be Wednesday, 8th period, badminton tournament."
Hale's attorney Tom Tootle is now deciding whether to file a complaint against the person who fired her.
"In most parts of the state, it is perfectly legal to fire someone on the basis of their sexual orientation. We're fortunate in Columbus to have a municipal ordinance that was passed in 2008 that does protect people and there are no exceptions in that ordinance for religious institutions," Tootle told NBC 4.
In the meantime, Hale's students and members of the community have banded together to start an online petition for their teacher's reinstatement. There were reportedly more than 7,000 names on the campaign for the school to rehire Hale.
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"I can understand their opinion on homosexuality when it comes to that issue, but we're seeing a woman reprimanded for this but you don't see any reprimand when a teacher gets divorced, which the Catholic Church is against," Mike Liggett, a Watterson alum, told NBC4. "You don't see them asking in their private life use birth control or one of those heightened matters."
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