Second Roncalli counsellor to lose job over same-sex marriage
A second guidance counsellor at Roncalli High School in Indianapolis has been told that her contract will not be renewed because she is married to a woman.
Lynn Starkey—who has worked at Roncalli High School for 39 years where she is co-director of guidance—married her partner in 2015, according to the Indianapolis Star.
However, she has now been told that her marriage puts her in breach of her contract with the school, which is run by the Catholic Archdiocese of Indianapolis. The school insists that staff must live their lives in accordance with the teachings of the Catholic Church.
Roncalli High School put another lesbian guidance counsellor on administrative leave last year
Starkey’s case comes just months after Shelly Fitzgerald, another guidance counsellor at Roncalli High School, was put on administrative leave when school authorities found out she was married to a woman.
Fitzgerald’s case led to media attention from across the world, with Fitzgerald appearing on The Ellen DeGeneres Show to talk about her experience.
Starkey has worked at Roncalli High School for 39 years and was named Teacher of the Year in 2009.
Last August, Starkey said she was asked by the school principal if she was in a civil union with a woman. She said this questioning took place just two days after Fitzgerald was placed on administrative leave.
“This is a tragedy all round. It’s a clearly avoidable tragedy.”
– Kathleen DeLaney, lawyer for Lynn Starkey
Starkey’s lawyer Kathleen DeLaney told PinkNews that they filed a discrimination complaint against Roncalli High School in November of last year on behalf of Lynn Starkey.
They updated their filing yesterday with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to reflect that Starkey’s contract will not be renewed after this academic year.
She expects the EEOC process to conclude in late May, at which point they intend to file a lawsuit.
“This is a tragedy all round,” DeLaney told PinkNews. “It’s a clearly avoidable tragedy. I particularly regret the message that this situation sends to the students at that high school who are members of the LGBTQ+ community.”
Roncalli High School introduced an LGBT+ programme for students last year
Late last year, after Fitzgerald was placed on administrative leave, Roncalli High School introduced a new programme—called Encourage—for LGBT+ students.
The programme was reportedly introduced to promote “a positive environment and safe space for students who experience same-sex attractions and those questioning their sexual identity.”
The announcement said that students in the group will use Jesus Christ as their “role model” and the “teachings of the Church” as their foundation.
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Fitzgerald was placed on administrative leave last year after an anonymous person tracked down her marriage certificate and sent it to school authorities.
The school later defended their decision, saying she is not a good “role model” for students.
PinkNews has contacted the Archdiocese of Indianapolis—which runs Roncalli High School—for comment, however no response had been received at the time of publishing.
A spokesperson for the Archdiocese told the Indianapolis Star that staff are employed on one-year contracts and that they are not automatically renewed.
They said that she is in breach of her contract with the school because of her “civil union.”