A Catholic school in Italy has allegedly dismissed a teacher for failing to deny being gay, saying that it needs to “protect the school environment”.

The teacher, who gave the name Silvia, claimed that Sacro Cuore school near Trento let her go because she refused to confirm or deny rumours that she was a lesbian.

She told newspaper La Repubblica: “What happened to me is medieval.

“Maybe I’m a lesbian, maybe I’m not. But asking me about my sexual orientation as a condition for renewing my contract is unacceptable.”

She also said that Sister Eugenia Libratore, headmistress and Mother Superior, “told me she was willing to turn a blind eye if I was willing to ‘solve the problem’. Homosexuality is a problem?”

‘Silvia’ said she had worked at the school for five years and lives with her partner in Trento.

Earlier this month, Libratore admitted to newspaper Corriere that she chose not to renew the teacher’s contract after hearing rumours that she was a lesbian, despite laws prohibiting such discrimination in the workplace.

She said: “I told her that I had heard these rumours, and that I hoped they were only rumours.

“Catholic schools have […] a certain set of educational and moral aspects, and to us it seems that we have to defend these at all costs.”

Stefania Giannini, Italy’s education minister, said yesterday in La Repubblica that she would investigate the matter and “act with due severity” if the allegations were found to be true.

The case was also criticised by Ivan Scalfarotto, one of the country’s first openly gay politicians and vice president of the Democratic Party.

He said: “The fact that this institute receives government grants makes this sad story even more unbelievable.”

Today, 20 senators from the governing Democratic Party formally called for Giannini to intervene.

Discrimination on the basis of sexuality has been illegal in Italy since 2003.

(Translation: Louis Raffin)