Following the Supreme Court’s ruling on same-sex marriage last Friday, a gay teacher who formerly served as band director at Mount de Sales Academy in Macon, Georgia has filed a federal lawsuit against the Catholic school claiming discrimination because of his sexual orientation.
Flint Dollar, who is represented by attorney Charles E. Cox, Jr., says he signed a contract with the school on May 1, 2014 and announced to school officials he would be marrying his gay partner the following October without any objection from them, reports The Telegraph. He was fired three weeks later.
However, a 13WMAZ News report from May 24, 2014 states Dollar said “school officials made the change because Dollar announced on Facebook that he planned to marry his male partner of 6 years.”
According to the Telegraph, Dollar states in his lawsuit that he met with school president David Held in January of 2011 after being asked about teaching band at the school, and that during the meeting, Dollar told Held he was gay and living with his partner. The band director, who was hired in April of 2011, claims the school’s faculty handbook does not state teachers must be either members of the Catholic Church or require faculty to adhere to the Church’s teachings.
Held issued a statement last year indicating that Dollar was not fired because he is gay, but because same-sex marriage is against the teachings of the Catholic Church.
Dollar, however, alleges he was fired because his same-sex marriage was unacceptable due to the Catholic school’s “traditional gender stereotypes.” In his lawsuit he states the Academy never informed him that a school employee could be fired for not adhering to the Catholic Church’s doctrine regarding marriage and that he was not aware of the school’s position on the issue.
The former Academy band director also reportedly claims the school has not fired heterosexual employees who live together while not married and who have been divorced and remarried – behaviors which are also against the teachings of the Church. Additionally, his suit charges that the school has employed non-Christian staff members.
The board of trustees of Mount de Sales Academy supported Dollar’s removal, stating the Academy’s mission is “to provide a high quality education based in teachings of the Catholic Church.”
A statement from the Diocese of Savannah read that it “supports the decision of the Board of Trustees at Mount de Sales Academy in Macon not to employ Mr. Flint Dollar for the 2014-2015 school term.”
A group of about 60 students, parents, and others protested the trustees’ decision not to invite Dollar back to the school. Some held signs with the words of Pope Francis: “Who am I to judge?”
Held invited the protesters into the school to discuss why Dollar was told not to return to the school. He explained that the Academy must follow the teachings of the Church.
Earlier this year, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued its statement that “there is reasonable cause to conclude” that Dollar had been discriminated against based on his sexual orientation.
According to the Telegraph, Dollar’s lawsuit seeks a jury trial, claiming that the school acted with malice or reckless indifference to Dollar’s rights as protected by the federal government. The suit seeks back pay, job reinstatement, compensation for his emotional pain and suffering, and attorney’s fees for Dollar.
Patrick Reilly, president of the Cardinal Newman Society – which serves “to promote and defend faithful Catholic education,” said last Friday following the Supreme Court’s ruling that legalized same-sex marriage nationwide, “[W]e call on Catholic educators to stand firm in the truth, with the conviction of faith. No matter how difficult it gets to maintain Catholic schools and colleges in a hostile culture, Catholic education can never waver on the definition of marriage.”
“Our young people need to hear the truth from their teachers, now more than ever,” Reilly said. “We will continue to promote and defend those faithful institutions that teach the truth, and we will expose any Catholic institution that denies it.”
In an interview Monday with the Newman Society, Dr. Andrew Abela, provost of The Catholic University of America (CUA), spoke about the importance for Catholic institutions of learning to hire individuals faithful to the teachings of the Church.
“We do expect our faculty to support the mission of the University to discover and impart the truth through excellence in teaching and research, faithful to the teachings of Christ and the Church,” Abela said. “It’s important to hire faithful Catholic faculty because we have, as a Catholic university, a certain view of reality laid out in the Apostles’ and Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creeds. We promote this view of the world by hiring professors who share it.”
“The influence of faith on our studies is not just intellectual,” Abela added. “Faith makes demands on how we behave.”
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