Teacher Fired For Being Pregnant And Gay At The Same Time
Barbara Webb was a chemistry teacher for nine years at Marion High School, an all-girls Catholic School in Michigan. In June, she learned she was pregnant. In July, she told the school. In August, she was fired. Why? Because Webb is gay, and her “non-traditional” pregnancy doesn’t fit with the Catholic school’s mission, which is “Let us love one another, for love is from God,”…no, wait. Their mission is “Judge not, that you be not judged.” Nope. Hang on. Maybe it’s, “As you wish that others would do it you, do so to them.” No. Hm. Must be “Fire all the gays.” Yeah, that’s it.
Webb says that in her termination letter, she was not given a reason for her firing, but that in previous conversations with school administrators they had expressed concerns regarding her adherence to their morality clause, which allows the school to fire a teacher if they have a public lifestyle that is “contrary to the Catholic faith.” The insinuation is that the main problem is that she is pregnant but not married, which is like saying that you are getting divorced not because your spouse cheated on you, but because they did it the night you had dinner reservations.
Webb has made a point of saying that while most of the students, faculty, and administration knew about her sexual orientation, it was not something she talked about with them because she felt that her private life had no place in the classroom. The fact is that you can keep quiet about gay, but there is no hiding gay and pregnant.
The school’s president, Sister Lenore Pochelski, refuses to comment of why Webb was fired. A former colleague of Webb’s, who does not want her name to be used, told Mommyish:
The school that fired her, not for being a lesbian, because the administration and many students knew this, but because she is pregnant, is the school where I dedicated 34 years of my life… I am so very proud and moved by the alums, and the current students and parents’ support [for Webb]. My colleagues and I worked to instill in them a sense of social justice and awareness, a desire to make changes – most of them are living that message. I am heartbroken that the place I love is now in the news for being intolerant.
The community is, indeed, unhappy with Webb’s firing. As one of her former students told USA Today:
I think the bigger thing everyone is feeling is we have been taught this whole time to live a Christian life and be accepting of people and yet we go and fire one of our favorite teachers?
Webb decided to go public, she says, not to save her job, but to help the LGBT students and staff who remain at Marion. She encourages the public to get involved and speak up for those who are “silenced by fear.” Yup, sure does sound like someone you don’t want influencing your kids, doesn’t it. Good grief, are we really still in a place where we put a teacher’s sexual preference over their ability to teach and help our kids become good, kind, and intelligent adults? The answer, apparently, is yes.
Webb has not yet decided if she will pursue a lawsuit against the school for pregnancy discrimination.