A Catholic school in Lafayette, Louisiana is forcing its teachers to sign a morality clause that asks them not to take birth control, marry outside the church, or engage in homosexual activity. They must also pledge not to cohabitate with their partners or get pregnant before marriage, and they must also speak out against abortion. This clause is a new part of the teachers’ contracts at the order of the Diocese of Lafayette and is affecting teachers at Our Lady of Fatima School.
Some teachers are, understandably, outraged at this addition to their contract. One teacher who is an open lesbian, Jane Riviere, has decided to leave the school at the end of the year, despite her love for her students, coworkers and the school itself. Riviere said, “Fatima School did not ask me to leave. It was because I could not sign my contract and be honest to its content… The leadership was very respectful, compassionate and understanding during this process… I love this school and wish all the best to everyone involved. While I do not agree, I accept the position of the Diocese.” Only time will tell if other teachers will follow in her footsteps.
Parents are also unhappy with this decision. School Council President, Jaci Russo, stated in an open letter to the principal of the school that it’s a good thing lying wasn’t mentioned in the morality clause:
I believe that the new Diocesan morality clause is flawed in many ways. By listing these “sins”, a number of teachers are forced to either lie about who they are, or deny the things they may have done in order to keep their jobs at Fatima. This is a travesty, as I know there are teachers who have had children out of wedlock and are divorced and remarried without annulment, yet they signed the clause and continue to teach.
Diocese director of human resources, Maureen Fontenot, made a statement saying that it is not the policy of the Diocese of Lafayette to discuss the terms and conditions of contracts.
Putting the “morality” of teachers before their teaching ability is detrimental to students’ education. School administrators at Our Lady of Fatima School would clearly rather have teachers who can’t teach but who fit into their definition of “moral” than excellent teachers who openly admit that they participate in the stated prohibited activities outside of school, none of which impact the teachers’ ability to teach whatsoever. The private lives of teachers should remain private as long as it doesn’t affect their teaching ability, yet the Diocese of Lafayette clearly believes otherwise.
Unfortunately, even though this morality clause is immoral in many ways, it is probably not illegal, according to LSU law professor William Corbett. He said:
Some states actually do have state employment discrimination laws that prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation, about 24, 25 states have state laws that say that. Louisiana’s does not. Louisiana’s state employment discrimination law covers all the grounds covered by Federal law, and a few others, but not sexual orientation… It’s been proposed at the Federal level a number of times to amend the Federal employment discrimination statue to include prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation. It’s come very close to passage, but never quite made it.
However, despite the legality of the clause, it seems counterintuitive for a school to drive away good teachers because of it. It also seems counterintuitive for an institution so intertwined with the Catholic faith. As Jaci Russo stated in her letter, “In the New Testament, Jesus says, ‘I did not come to call the virtuous, but the sinners.’ If we removed all sinners from our school there would be no faculty left to teach the students and no parents to enroll their children.”
The bottom line is that keeping this morality clause as part of teacher contracts at Our Lady of Fatima would not only be detrimental to students’ education, but is also immoral in and of itself. If you want to do something about this issue, sign this petition and tell Our Lady of Fatima School to remove the morality clause from their contract.
Photo Credit: TheChristianAlert.org