School that fired lesbian guidance counsellor introduces new LGBT programme
A high school in Indianapolis, Indiana that fired a lesbian guidance counsellor when they found out she was married to a woman have now introduced a programme for LGBT+ students.
Fox59 reports that Roncalli High School announced in their weekly newsletter that they would be implementing a new programme for students who identify with the LGBT+ community.
The new programme is called Encourage, which the school says will promote “a positive environment and safe space for students who experience same-sex attractions and those questioning their sexual identity.”
The move comes just months after Roncalli High School made headlines across the world when they put guidance counsellor Shelly Fitzgerald on administrative leave after finding out that she had a wife.
The school has a Catholic ethos, and after an anonymous person got a copy of Fitzgerald’s marriage certificate and sent it to the school, she was found to be in breach of her contract.
Respect, compassion and sensitivity
The school later defended their decision, saying that she is not a good “role model” for students.
The announcement on Roncalli High School’s website about the new programme says that people with same-sex attraction must be “accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity.”
It also says that students in the group will use Jesus Christ as their “role model” and the “teachings of the Church” as their foundation.
“This group strives to accompany students as they seek to fulfil God’s will in their lives.”
A student at the school, Erin Rooney, praised the step, saying it was “important” that people from the LGBT+ community feel accepted in the school
“I was a little concerned at first that it was going to be a form of conversion therapy but again I think if it is managed correctly that it should be OK,” she told Fox49.
The new programme will come as good news to students at the school – particularly those from the LGBT+ community.
In September, Shelly Fitzgerald appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, where she said that she worked at Roncalli High School for 15 years, and also went to school there as an adolescent.
She explained that she received an email from the president of the school unexpectedly where he asked her to come in for a meeting with the school’s principal.
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She emailed the school principal separately and asked if she should be worried, and he explained that somebody had sent her marriage certificate to the school.
“When I got into the meeting, the president pushed my marriage certificate in front of me, a copy of it, and said, ‘who is this?’ I said ‘that’s my wife, Victoria’, and they proceeded to give me a few options.
“They told me that I could dissolve my marriage. They told me that I could resign. They told me that if it stayed kind of quiet, it didn’t get into the media, and I didn’t let anybody know what was going on, that I could potentially keep my job for the rest of the year but then they wouldn’t renew my contract the following year.
“They said that if I got too boisterous, too loud in the media, they would have to terminate me sooner,” she added.
However, she then claimed that the school announced two days later through social media and a press release that she had been placed on administrative leave and that she was banned from campus.
Fitzgerald has been with her partner for 22 years and has been married for four. They have a 12-year-old daughter together.