Gay Issues

Pregnant Catholic High School Teacher Fired For Being A Lesbian

| by Sarah Fruchtnicht

Dozens of Michigan parents are rallying behind a pregnant Catholic high school teacher who was allegedly fired last month for being homosexual.

Barbara Webb, 33, worked as a chemistry teacher and volleyball coach at Marian High School in Bloomfield Hills for almost a decade before she was terminated.

Webb says administrators at the all-girls school fired her after they learned she and her wife were expecting their first child.

Webb married her partner Kristen Lasecki nearly six years ago and learned of her pregnancy in June. She didn’t inform her employers until July. In mid-August she was fired, the Detroit Free Press reported.

Webb says her termination letter didn’t give a reason for the dismissal. She said conversations with administrators prior to being fired pointed to a morality clause in her contract over "lifestyle or actions directly contradictory to the Catholic faith."

"If you publicly had some type of actions that were contradictory to Catholic teachings, then there would be an issue," Webb told WJBK-TV. "If you did and it was private, there seemed to be no issue."

She said the school offered to let her resign so she could keep her health insurance through the spring, but she couldn’t discuss what happened. She chose to be terminated.

"Well, you're damn right I wasn't going to sign something that said I willing[ly] was leaving," Webb said. "And their $4k of health insurance wasn't enough to buy my silence."

Parents and former students are protesting the school's actions. They started the “I Stand With Barb Webb” movement, calling for the school to embrace diversity.

"Marian teaches us about social justice in profound ways,” Mazza Cunnings told the Detroit Free Press. "This is a human rights issue. There's a mother and a child involved. (Standing up for them) is what we were taught to do."

About 30 people stood outside the high school Sunday morning to show their support for Webb.

Lisbeth Melendez Rivera, director of Latino/a and Catholic Initiatives at the HRC Foundation said the action taken against Webb is discriminatory and all too common.

"There is a sad and troubling narrative of increasing discrimination by Catholic institutions against LGBT Americans, including and especially those who legally marry or come out," Rivera said in a press release. "These discriminatory actions extend from Oakland to Kansas City to Cincinnati, from Chicago to Atlanta, and are occurring with alarming frequency."

Sources: Detroit Free Press, The Advocate

Image credit: Flickr Creative Commons / Guillaume Paumier