Catholic teachers say "No" to new contract clause

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In lieu of the many recent instances where employees of Catholic institutions—ranging from food pantry workers to teachers—were forced to leave their positions, some employees have willingly made the decision not to renew their work contracts due to conflicts in belief.

Molly Shumate, a first-grade Catholic school teacher from the Archdiocese of Cincinnati has decided not to continue working for the school when her contract was tweaked to include a clause that reportedly prohibits teachers, whether Catholic or not, from having out-of-wedlock relationships, using in-vitro fertilization, leading a gay “lifestyle,” or publicly supporting any of the above.

After 14 years of teaching, Shumate, whose son is gay, refused to resign her contract.

"For me to sign this (contract), I feel like I would be telling my son I've changed my mind, that I don't support him as I did. And I won't do that," she said. Shumate—along with another teacher Robert Hague who teaches English at a high school in the archdiocese—is taking a public stand against the contract in support of her son, although Catholic School Superintendent Jim Rigg says the “contract does not stipulate that relationships of love for LGBT relatives should be severed.”

Contract adjustments and fidelity oaths are not anything new. In recent years, they’ve been popping up all over the place, including U.S. Catholic’s Sounding Board survey in the May 2013 issue.

Of the 743 readers who took our survey, nearly 70 percent stated that they would not sign a loyalty oath swearing to adhere to the church’s teachings on specific issues, including homosexuality, contraception, chastity, marriage, abortion, and euthanasia, among others, if it was required for volunteering at their parish. That would be more than 500 volunteers lost across the country.

The teachers’ new contract is forcing more than 2,200 of them from the Cincinnati archdiocese to choose between their employment and their loved ones. By signing the contract, they would have to give up being associated with friends and family who go against church teaching. If they do support them and the archdiocese finds out then the teachers risk their jobs. The whole thing is certainly a lose-lose situation for the teachers. But the archdiocese also loses an incredible amount of talent in their school districts. And there is no doubt that this contract clause will continue to distance people from the church.

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