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Gay Catholic School Teacher To File Complaint With City Commission

The Watterson High School teacher who said she was fired for being gay plans to file a complaint with the Columbus Community Relations Commission Tuesday. The city of Columbus prohibits firings based on sexual orientation. Carla Hale said she had hoped Watterson principal Marian Hutson would reinstate her last week. But Hutson did not. Hale’s attorney, Tom Tootle, said Monday the complaint will allege Hutson violated the city’s discrimination ordinance. “[The commission has] the authority to charge someone with a first degree misdemeanor, which basically means that guilty party, should they be found guilty, would be subject to a penalty of no more than a $1,000 fine or six months in jail," Tootle said. Tootle said Hale's employment agreement did not say she would become a Catholic or practice Catholic tenets. Tootle said the contract said she must not engage in immoral acts. And the Diocese said Hale acted immorally when she listed her same-sex partner in her mother's obituary. Now Hale awaits word from fellow union members, the Central Ohio Association of Catholic Educators, whether they support her grievance filed against the Columbus Diocese. "There's some ramifications to this decision that they're about to make which could have impact on all their membership," Tootle said. "Ms. Hale was terminated under a provision of the agreement that refers to immorality. It doesn't make any effort to define what that terms means." Tootle said Hale also is considering filing an unlawful termination action in civil court. Current and former Watterson students have rallied behind the physical education teacher. An online petition has collected 100,000 supporter signatures. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Columbus contends school employees cannot go against teachings of the church.