Eppur si muove

Well color me surprised – a Catholic institution has budged. A Catholic institution has responded to public outrage, and thought again, and held a meeting, and budged. A Catholic institution has reversed itself on a homophobic policy. Stone the motherfucking crows.

The St. Mary’s Academy board voted Wednesday night to change the school’s policy on hiring gay employees after facing backlash over the administration’s decision to rescind a job offer to a gay counselor.

Students and high-profile donor Tim Boyle, CEO of Columbia Sportswear, had earlier condemned the choice not to employ 27-year-old Lauren Brown.

In response, administrators brought the board together and recommended members vote to expand the hiring policy.

No doubt they didn’t want to lose the donor, and other donors who might follow. I don’t care. They still budged.

In July, the Roman Catholic high school reversed its plans to make Brown an academic adviser after learning she was gay, the job applicant said. Friedhoff said the decision was made when Brown indicated she intends to get married.

Brown’s attorney said the 27-year-old had accepted the position in April and signed an employment contract. Friedhoff said the position was offered in April and a contract was sent to Brown, but administrators never received a signed copy.

Regardless of the precise reason or whether Brown had signed a contract, the decision not to hire her didn’t sit well with students. St. Mary’s families learned about the situation Tuesday night when the administration emailed parents.

Students aren’t always right, but sometimes they are. In this case they are.

About a dozen students showed up Wednesday morning to decorate a statue outside the school with rainbow heart glasses and a St. Mary’s hoodie with “FREE TO BE ME” taped on the front. The teens said the decision didn’t reflect the social justice values of St. Mary’s.

Good job, teens.

The original decision could have had financial implications for the school. Major donor Tim Boyle, CEO of Columbia Sportswear, said Wednesday afternoon in a statement that he and his wife had been “extremely disappointed” and believed the original decision should be reversed.

“Recently, one of us participated in a successful public forum hosted by St. Mary’s addressing how to prepare St. Mary’s students for the work force of the future,” Boyle said in a statement to The Oregonian/OregonLive. “The news this week is an example of how to not prepare students.  There is no place in the workplace of today, or of the future, for discriminating against an individual based on sexual orientation.”

Quite right. There’s no place for it because there’s no good reason for it. It was just a thought-free entrenched prejudice, a mindless oook-feeling, and nothing more.

I found out about this via the Facebook page I stand with Barb Webb. Remember Barb Webb? She taught chemistry at a Catholic school near Detroit for nine years, until they fired her after she told them she was pregnant.

Webb, 33, says she told the administration last month she was 14 weeks pregnant and offered to take a leave of absence until after her child was born. She says she was told she could resign or be fired. She chose the latter.

Webb said she does not believe her firing was strictly based on the fact that she is gay, but that it was because she became pregnant outside of a traditional marriage.

The school’s morality clause, which all teachers are expected to sign, is “quite vague”, Webb said, in that it only states that teachers and other employees must not publicly display or teach anything that contradicts Catholic doctrine. Legal experts say such clauses can often mask unlawful discrimination.

It would be pleasant to see that school change its policy, and re-hire Barb Webb.

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