Oregon All-Girls Catholic School Fires Lesbian Counselor; Students, Alumni Protest

It's not only illegal, but isn't in line with church teaching, either.
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It’s no secret that the Catholic Church is against same-sex marriage. However, the Church does make a distinction between being homosexual and homosexual acts. Now, this distinction is crazy (so…homosexuals are cool…as long as they stay celibate and miserable forever?), but it’s an important one to remember when discussing Lauren Brown, a 27-year-old counselor who was hired by an all-girls Catholic school, only to have her job offer rescinded once the school learned she was a lesbian.

Back in May, Brown was offered a position at St. Mary’s Academy, an all-girls Catholic prep school in Portland, OR. She was thrilled about the position and was looking forward to the Fall term. Then, when speaking with a top school official over the summer, she mentioned that she was a lesbian. Earlier this month, the school sent Brown papers not only rescinding their offer of employment, but offering her a year’s salary and benefits to encourage her to keep her mouth shut and not sue. Clearly, she didn’t sign those papers, nor is she keeping her mouth shut. The good part of all this is that both current students and alumni of the school are making their displeasure known, protesting the school’s decision, as you can see in the tweet above and in the tweets below:

What’s sad about this, in addition to a promising young counselor having her career dreams dashed (she even took a pay cut and left a university job to work at St. Mary’s), is the fact that…it’s an all-girls school. There are bound to be lesbian students there. And yet through this firing, the school is teaching those girls that simply by virtue of who they are, this is the treatment they can expect to get, that they deserve to get. Simply for existing.

And I stress existing, because Brown isn’t engaged. She mentioned gay marriage as a hypothetical when confronting the school about their decision, but she’s not getting married, nor is it clear that she’s even in a relationship right now. Meaning that the school fired her simply for being a lesbian. Which is not only illegal, but isn’t in line with church teaching, either.

But wait, there’s more! St. Mary’s Alumni recently received an email in which the school’s president wrote, ” “We all recognize that now more than ever, we need to come together as a community so that St. Mary’s will continue to be a safe place for all young women.”

Safe? As in, having a lesbian on staff isn’t safe for young women? Because of course homosexuals are pedophiles and rapists. /sarcasm Never mind that there are straight men on staff at St. Mary’s – they’re fine. It’s the horrible lesbians we have to worry about! (Please note, that I’m not saying the straight men are pedophiles or rapists either! That’s the point. It’s hypocritical to fire one group of people that are attracted to women if you’re continuing to employ another group attracted to women on the basis of “safety.”)

This is all the more surprising, because both students and alumni love St. Mary’s because it’s known as a bastion of social justice. They take pride in the fact that the school has always been an open, welcoming environment – yes, even for lesbian students. Yes, even decades ago. It’s as if they just now decided to drink the Fox News Kool-Aid and let themselves be swayed by the fearmongering worse angels of Christianity’s nature.

Here’s hoping that the students, their families, and St. Mary’s alumni speaking out against this clear act of discrimination are heard, and that St. Mary’s corrects this injustice. This decision was wrong, both from a legal standpoint and a religious standpoint, and does nothing but give us all a glimpse of irrational fear and hatred.

(via The Daily Dot and Willamette Week)

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Teresa Jusino
Teresa Jusino (she/her) is a native New Yorker and a proud Puerto Rican, Jewish, bisexual woman with ADHD. She's been writing professionally since 2010 and was a former TMS assistant editor from 2015-18. Now, she's back as a contributing writer. When not writing about pop culture, she's writing screenplays and is the creator of your future favorite genre show. Teresa lives in L.A. with her brilliant wife. Her other great loves include: Star Trek, The Last of Us, anything by Brian K. Vaughan, and her Level 5 android Paladin named Lal.