Students and parents are coming to the defense of a guidance counselor who officials at a Catholic school are trying to force out of her job after discovering she is married to a woman. Shelly Fitzgerald has worked for 15 years at Roncalli High School in Indianapolis, all the while concealing her sexual orientation and longtime relationship because she knew her job was at risk. In 2014, she and her partner married. They have one child together.
But in recent days, Fitzgerald has come under fire at the school after she reportedly said someone “sought out my marriage certificate” and brought it to the attention of school administrators who, it appears, then passed it along to the archbishop of Indianapolis. The Catholic Church does not condone same-sex marriage. After her marital status came to light, Roncalli principal, Chuck Weisenbach, and the school president, Joseph D. Howell summoned her to a meeting.
At the meeting, Fitzgerald said, the men gave her four options: resign; dissolve her marriage; stay quiet about her same sex marriage and finish out the remaining year on her contract, at which point it would not be renewed; or “make a fuss,” as she put it in an interview with local TV station WTHR, and get fired.
Well, it looks like there’s a fifth option that the school principal and president didn’t think of: lawyer up and fight back. That’s precisely what Fitzgerald has done.
“I have no intention of resigning,” she said. “I have no intention of being quiet.” She also said the offered her counseling from a priest. In the meantime, the school has put her on paid administrative leave. And the school addressed the issue in a post on Facebook, saying, “When the expectations of a contract are not being met, the employee and the school will attempt to reach a resolution so that the contractual requirements are fulfilled.”
Meanwhile, she’s winning the support of students and parents who believe she’s being discriminated against. A ‘save Ms. Fitzgerald‘ Facebook page has been launched and has more than 3,000 fans, and students have made visual demonstrations of support by laying their T-shirts on the ground alongside flowers and a sign reading “Love More.”
Show of support outside Roncalli High School for counselor Shelly Fitzgerald. She’s on paid administrative leave, told by school & Archdiocese that her job is at risk because she’s married to a woman. (Pic courtesy Roncalli parent) Hear from Shelly at 5 on @WTHRcom pic.twitter.com/FO2nZ71P9a
— Jennie Runevitch (@JennieWTHR) August 13, 2018
In her interview with WTHR, Fitzgerald’s spirits were buoyed by the support of the students. “We taught [students] to use their voice,” she said, “and they are.”
Below, watch the full interview with Fitzgerald.
Read the full story at The Huffington Post.