School Fires Teacher for Not Opposing Gay Marriage

Trish Cameron is not the first Catholic teacher to be fired because she was honest about holding beliefs different from her employer. Care2 blogger Steve Williams wrote about a German kindergarten teacher who was fired for being a lesbian. She would have been fired immediately, but state officials ruled she could not be let go before the end of her maternity leave.

Ann Bibby wrote about another dismissal in Vancouver, B.C., where same-sex marriage is legal. A teacher in a publicly funded Catholic girls’ school was allowed to complete her contract but not admitted back in the classroom. Parents had found out she was a lesbian.

Now another teacher has learned that being honest can mean losing her job. This time it is not even a matter of someone living a “lifestyle” counter to church teachings. After eleven uncontroversial years as a teacher at St. Joseph’s Catholic School in Moorhead, Minnesota, Trish Cameron is being forced to resign because of an opinion.

Cameron Fired for Personal Opinion

According to the “Crookston Daily Times,” Cameron admitted on a self-evaluation form that she disagreed with some of the church’s teachings. She may as well have turned in her resignation along with the self-evaluation.

When she was called into a meeting with school officials, Cameron admitted she did not agree with the church’s stance on gay marriage. Although she made it clear she never expressed that sentiment in class, she was told even holding it as a private opinion was cause for dismissal.

After she was informed her contract would not be renewed, she wrote a letter to the school’s family and staff. In it she wrote:

We tend to focus on respect and love for one another and living out our call as servants whenever a ‘political’ topic crops (which it rarely, if ever, does).

Next page: The School’s Version

The “Crookston Daily Times” said the school’s principal, Toby Bierl, and the superintendent, Monsignor Mike Foltz, sent out their own letter. They explained that “Cameron was asked to resign because of ‘an unfortunate circumstance’ related to St. Joseph’s ‘fiduciary responsibility’ as a Catholic school.” The incident has received a lot of attention so parents will be able to interpret “fiduciary responsibility” as “holding an opinion not sanctioned by the church.”

In his coverage of the firing, David Badash wrote in “The New Civil Rights Movement”:

In other words, St. Joseph’s Catholic School is 100% intolerant of views not authorized by the Catholic Church, and is willing to fire anyone who states, even confidentially, that they do.

Time to End Intolerance

The Catholic Church is not the only religious organization unable to come to terms with same-sex marriage. Fundamentalists of other stripes, not all of them Christian, join in discriminating against couples on the basis of sexual identity.

It is old thinking, and it is on its way out. People are becoming increasingly aware that homosexuality is not something people choose. As acceptance of differing sexual identities increases, religious organizations that cling to intolerance are likely to find themselves irrelevant.

If you feel Trish Cameron should not have been let go simply for holding an opinion, sign the petition below. The Catholic school district may have a legal right to terminate her employment, but their action is a curious response from a religion based on the teachings of Jesus.

After all, he gave a new commandment in John 13:34. In the International Standard Version published in 2008, it is translated as:

I am giving you a new commandment to love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.

Firing a teacher because of an opinion she holds privately is an odd interpretation of “love.”

Related Care2 Stories

Military Chaplain: Gay Soldiers Deserve Basic Respect

Church Can Fire Lesbian, but Only after Maternity Leave

Teaching While Lesbian Could Cost You Your Job

Photo credits: Thinkstock

99 comments

Duane B.
.3 years ago

Somehow I think this school has drifted away from following the principles of "what would Jesus do"!

antonia maestre
antonia maestre3 years ago

"Don't like gay marriages? Don't get one. Don't like cigarettes? Don't smoke them. Don't like abortions? Don't get one. Don't like sex? Don't have it. Don't like drugs? Don't do them. Don't like porn? Don't watch it. Don't like alcohol? Don't drink it.. Don't like guns? Don't buy one. Don't like your rights taken away? Don't take away someone else's."

Jeanne M.
Jeanne M.3 years ago

I wasn't taught personal responsibility and morals in the Catholic school I attended - I got that from my parents. And, perhaps, a well-developed conscience.
In the school and church I attended, I was taught that nearly everything I thought and did was a sin, some venial, some mortal. I was taught that a priest was as near to God as you'll get on earth and his teachings - no matter how bigoted, far-fetched and ridiculous - was the word of God. I was taught that women were second-class citizens, as well as an 'occasion of sin'.
Fortunately, I didn't learn any of it.
It's no bloody wonder that there's nothing more lapsed than a lapsed Catholic.

Patti R.
Patti Ruocco3 years ago

I agree with Robert P.--if she did not teach anything different than the stance of the organization she had given her word to represent, then her private opinions are just that--private. My question is---why are they allowed this modern witch-hunt?? The questions should not be what do you believe? but what will you teach?---that is more pertinent to any job issues...

Rin S.
Rin S.3 years ago

If I were her, even if they offered to rehire me, I would decline.

Rin S.
Rin S.3 years ago

The school doesn't deserve to have decent teachers like Cameron at their school.

Past Member
Past Member 3 years ago

THIS IS OUTRAGIOUS ! But this is the Church who brought you the Witchburnings in the middle ages..among many other unpleasent things ..including sexism & homophobia and the harassment of scientists. Destroy their tax excempt status and TAX THEM!!!!!

Kevin Brown
Kevin Brown3 years ago

Doggone Robert P. I just gotta green star you for that last comment!

Kevin Brown
Kevin Brown3 years ago

Norma-So she must reject her son to keep her job? They are telling her how she must feel and act regarding her son's sexuality. That is wrong.

Robert Pavlick
Robert Pavlick3 years ago

Norma says: "This is a Catholic school in which she 'violated' part of her contract. She has a right to her opinion, but not if it is different than public views expressed by the church. Even the nuns have been a target for the Vatican."

I would like to see the contract. I agree that a teacher should NOT teach anything that her employer does not want taught. That goes without saying. But she can be sanctioned and fired simply for her own silent beliefs? That doesn't make any sense at all. If that were the case, then they should fire all these priests who don't believe in God and molest children, rather than just shuffling them around and sending them to new parishes.