For the second time in a month, the governing body of a Catholic school system has spelled out specific terminology of what it expects from its teachers in their contracts – and the imposition on those teachers' lives and beliefs is causing division.
According to a report written by CNN's Chris Welch and Susan Candiotti, new teacher contracts sent out by the Archdiocese of Cincinnati for the 2014-2015 school year forbid teachers from:
- Having sex outside of marriage
- Living with a person of the opposite sex while not married to that person
- Using in-vitro fertilization (IVF)
- Maintaining a gay lifestyle
- Publicly supporting any of the above
Cincinnati Catholic Schools Superintendent Dr. Jim Rigg said in an op-ed for the Cincinnati Enquirer that there are no new requirements in the revised contract, and it only explains, "in abundantly clear language, some of the principles of the Catholic Church."
Many believe the morality clause stems from an incident in 2013 when teacher Christa Dias,a gay woman, used IVF to get pregnant while single. She was fired, sued the archdiocese for discrimination and was awarded $171,000.
Prior to her trial, the archdiocese made the argument that she was a ministerial employee and thus could be dismissed without government interference.
This argument is particularly of interest given that the new teacher contracts add the title of "minister" to each teacher's title, regardless of whether their job description includes anything to do with religion.
Two teachers have come out to news media that they are refusing to sign the new contracts: 14-year vet Molly Shumate and lifetime teacher Robert Hague.
In an article written by Michael D. Clark for the Cincinnati Enquirer, Shumate, who teaches first grade, said she refused to sign the contract because her son is gay.
"In my eyes there is nothing wrong with my son. This is what God gave me and what God created and someone I should never be asked to not support. 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," Shumate said.
Hague, with five decades' teaching experience under his belt, has no family connection, but simply does not believe in the new clauses:
"It is an embarrassment and a scandal," Hague said, "and will drive even more Catholics away from an institution so out of touch with its times."
The issue is strikingly similar to one going on in Oakland, where five teachers have quit rather than sign new contracts with similar added âmorality clauses,' as reported by Education News.
Parent and student petitions have drawn hundreds of signatures against the Oakland contracts, with the archdiocese there giving some ground, saying the contracts for the 2015-2016 school year will be revisited and perhaps reworded.