By Alyssa Daniels
In early August, there was an uproar about how a Roncalli High School counselor Shelly Fitzgerald was found to be in a relationship with a woman for 22 years while she was working at the high school for 15 years, according to Fox 59. Roncalli High School is a private school that follows the Catholic religion. She had to hide it for so long since it wasn’t “right” to the school. Her private life should have nothing to do with her work life and the school still receives some government funding, so it’s unfair.
When Fitzgerald was hired for her job, she had already been with her then-girlfriend for five years and the school staff knew about it. According to Fox 59 News, “…the counselor’s coworkers and the administration knew she was gay and it was not a huge secret. Many, including students, do not agree with the school’s decision and feel she should still be able to keep her job.” If the school knew she was married to a woman then she should be able to keep her job rather than having to either divorce her wife or quit her job.
Fitzgerald was still doing her job as a counselor helping the students and never let her marriage come in between that. Her job as a counselor was being fulfilled the 15 years she was working there so it shouldn’t matter now. The Archbishop of Indianapolis stated, “As ministers, they must convey and be supportive of the teachings of the Catholic Church.” In this case, Fitzgerald can still convey and support the teachings of the Catholic Church. Just because she is attracted to the same sex does not mean she can’t support the teaching of the church. She put her sexual orientation aside and put the school and the church rules first.
Private schools follow different rules, but discrimination laws should still apply. With Roncalli the rules are to abide by the church’s rules. The Archbishop stated, “The issue concerning Ms. Fitzgerald’s employment is not about sexual orientation, but about the Church’s teaching that marriage is a covenant between a man and a woman as established and revealed by God. There is nothing in Church teaching that says being gay or lesbian is a sin.” I understand they need to follow what the church says, but at the same time public schools have to follow the discrimination laws, which, “prohibit discrimination in programs or activities that receive Federal funds from the Department of Education. These laws prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, color, and national origin, sex, disability, and on the basis of age,” according to the U.S. Department of Education.
Private schools are still funded by the government through vouchers, tax credit scholarships and education savings accounts, according to Southern Education Foundation. Since they are still partially funded, the government should put the discrimination laws in place at private schools so cases like this never occur.
This case with Roncalli and Fitzgerald has received mass media attention because of how unfair it is to her. The twenty-first century has different ideals now; it’s time for a change.