Roncalli High School, a Catholic high school in Indianapolis recently made media attention after placing a long-standing an popular guidance counselor, Shelly Fitzgerald, on administrative leave. Her crime? Being married to a woman.
Jennifer McCormick, Indiana’s Superintendent of Instruction, was not pleased with Roncalli High School’s decision, as the school enrolled 350 students through a voucher program, which is about $1.5 million in tax dollars. McCormick reasoning is that any school receiving public funds should not exclude anyone, Fox 59 reports. She says “I think the notion that you can’t send a child that takes taxpayers’ money to a school because they identify LGBT, that’s a little bit antiquated and it should not be accepted in this state.” It makes sense. If any organization is receiving funding from the public, it stands to reason that they should not exclude anyone from attending and/or using their services.
Shelly Fitzgerald appeared on Ellen to share her story. On the popular program, Fitzgerald mentions that she has worked at Roncalli for fifteen years and also attended the school so she is familiar with the ins and outs of it. The principle and the president of the school emailed her and asked to meet with her, to which she responded with an email asking for details about the meeting and he said that someone had turned in her marriage certificate that was shown to the principle and then to the archbishop.
While in the meeting, the principle handed Shelly a copy of her marriage certificate and asked who the other person is. Shelly answered honestly with “that’s my wife, Victoria.”
This was apparently a big no no to the principle, president, and archbishop because they gave her three options:
- Divorce her wife
- Resign from her fifteen-year position
- Keep quiet about her marriage and what was happening and make sure that it doesn’t get out into the media, which would allow her to keep her job for the rest of the year but her contract wouldn’t be renewed for the next year.
Most of the school’s staff knew that Fitzgerald was gay and had no problem with it.
A few days after the meeting, Shelly Fitzgerald was placed on paid administrative leave and banned from campus and a letter was sent out explaining that she was on administrative leave because she is married to a woman. They released knowledge of her marriage on social media and sent out a press release, effectively outing her as a lesbian. So much for trying to keep it quiet… Shelly met multiple times with the archbishop to discuss changes in the contract to be more inclusive of LGBT people, but he said that he won’t ever make those changes
According to Fitzgerald, she has been married for four years but with her wife for twenty-two years and has a twelve-year-old daughter.
While Roncalli High School is rigid about its policies regarding LGBT people, it is refreshing to know that people such as McCormick are on Shelly’s side on this issue. In my opinion, schools in general should not have exclusionary policies in place and when they’re receiving taxpayer money, they should be open to everyone, regardless of sexual orientation. Gay, straight, black, white. Education should be a universal experience.