INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (CBS Local) — An Indiana Catholic school guidance counselor may lose her job of 15 years after officials learned she was married to another woman.
Shelly Fitzgerald has been placed on paid administrative leave from Roncalli High School after school administrators were tipped off that the long-time Indianapolis counselor was in a same-sex relationship. According to Fitzgerald, posting on social media, the Catholic school gave her the option to resign, end her marriage, or stay on leave for the rest of the school year.READ MORE: 'Lunchflation' Is Real. Returning To The Office Is Costing Us A Fortune
When Fitzgerald chose to stay on leave, Roncalli allegedly informed the counselor she would not have her contract renewed for next year, according to CBS4.
Despite public outrage over the school’s decision, legal experts say Roncalli has the right to let Fitzgerald go because of her marriage. “I don’t think there’s any doubt whatsoever that Roncalli enjoys 100 percent First Amendment protection for making sure… that the people who are conducting that ministry, i.e. any of the employees, are conducting themselves so that they’re not hypocrites,” attorney Jim Bopp told the Indy Star.READ MORE: Crash Between Tractor-Trailers Closes Lanes In Fort McHenry Tunnel, Person Trapped, Firefighters Union Says
In their own Facebook post, the Catholic school reiterated their belief that marriage was a union “between a man and a woman” and that their employees have “clearly defined” expectations regarding the church’s teachings in their contracts.
Fitzgerald has reportedly hired a lawyer and plans to fight the school’s decision in court. “I can’t tell you what will happen here,” attorney Stephanie Hahn told reporters. “But I can tell you that I think the law is on the counselor’s side, and public opinion is on the counselor’s side.”MORE NEWS: MD Receives $989K Settlement From Ford Over False Advertising Claims