It's a well-known fact that Catholic schools across the country openly practice employment discrimination against LGBT people, particularly if they have the temerity to come out of the closet or marry the person they love.
But the Catholic Archdiocese of Cincinnati, Ohio is going one step further: under new employment contracts being distributed this month, teachers will be prohibited not just from being gay (or, as they put it, engaging in the so-called "homosexual lifestyle"), but even from making public expressions of support for LGBT people -- either at school or in their personal lives.
Details, after the jump.
The Cincinnati Enquirer reports:
The contract for the 2014-15 school year explicitly orders teachers to refrain "from any conduct or lifestyle which would reflect discredit on or cause scandal to the school or be in contradiction to Catholic doctrine or morals." It goes so far as to ban public support of the practices...
Under the new contract, teachers are expressly prohibited from: "improper use of social media/communication, public support of or publicly living together outside of marriage; public support of or sexual activity out of wedlock; public support of/or homosexual lifestyle; public support of/or use of abortion; public support of/or use of a surrogate mother; public support or use of in vitro fertilization or artificial insemination."
It also says that teachers will be fired for engaging in "any action or involvement by the (teacher) during work or personal time that may cause public embarrassment or discredit the School in any way."
The archdiocese began distributing the new agreements to principals of the 94 schools it supervises earlier this month. It will affect more than 2,200 employees. Contracts generally have to be signed by the end of the current school year.
The Enquirer notes that the new contract has doubled in size and is "strikingly different" from previous archdiocesan teacher employment agreements. Spokespeople from the archdiocese and the Catholic Conference of Ohio say that the new contracts are in line with those being unveiled in dioceses across the country.
Tom Miele, a pastoral council president at a local Catholic parish, criticized the new restrictions and claimed that they're really aimed at reducing the archdiocese's potential exposure to wrongful termination lawsuits:
"It seems awfully intrusive and it all seems unfair. Some of the things they put on that list are not a reflection of what has happened in our society. It's more about protecting their schools from a lawsuit. You have to believe it is all about the Archdiocese's reactions to (legal) cases."
Polls repeatedly show that a clear majority of American Catholics support civil marriage equality for same-gender couples. In fact, Catholics support the freedom to marry at a higher rate than the general public.
Unless they've lost their grip on reality, the Cincinnati Archdiocese knows that the genie is out of the bottle on marriage equality, and the Catholic Church's official view is ultimately a losing one. But instead of graciously conceding defeat, they've decided to become the thought police, reaching deeply into their employees' personal lives and asserting a right to stifle their free expression far beyond school walls.
As far as the Cincinnati Archdiocese is concerned, LGBT employees and their straight allies have two choices: they can either lie about who they are/who they love/the community they support, or resign.
How very Christ-like.