The Calgary Catholic School district in Canada has come under fire for reportedly asking its teachers to sign documents that suggest same-sex relationships are a breach of their employment contracts.
One teacher has now brought her case before the Alberta Human Rights Commission, the Calgary Herald reports.
Kristopher Wells, associate professor with the Faculty of Health and Community Studies at MacEwan University, said: “How can these contracts — these Catholicity clauses — be allowed to stand when they are clearly discriminatory.”
“It’s hard to believe that in 2018, when same-sex marriage is legal in this country, that anyone could lose their job because of that.”
Harmful for teachers and students
Wells added that the contracts create a harmful environment for both teachers and students.
“This is not a system that is directly supported by the church. It is a public education system supported by taxpayers,” Wells said.
“But there is this ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ mentality that creates feelings of stress, despair, where you have to remain silent to maintain employment.
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“That not only impacts teachers, but it denies LGBTQ youth the important role models they need.”
Teachers are required to sign a contract that outlines they are to live a “lifestyle and deportment in harmony with Catholic teaching and principles.”
Teachers dealt with case-by-case
Richard Svoboda, superintendent of human resources at CCSD, told the Calgary Herald that “anyone who is not living a lifestyle in alignment with the church, that piece of the contract would impact them.
Svoboda stated: “Relationships that would be acceptable are those recognised by the Catholic Church, that have to be acknowledged by a Catholic priest.”
These would not include a same-sex relationship or common law relationship, he added.
Teachers are dealt with on a “case-by-case” basis and encouraged to meet with a Catholic priest.
Svoboda said: “It isn’t for me to determine whether they are right or wrong in the eyes of the Catholic Church.
“We provide them with avenues to reconcile.”
A former Calgary Catholic school principal, Barb Hamilton, has taken her case to the Alberta Human Rights Commission, alleging that she was forced to leave her job due to her sexuality.