Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Practicing what you teach?...

Apparently not in some places. From www.cnn.com....

--The New York Civil Liberties Union has filed a federal discrimination complaint against a Catholic school, charging that it unjustly fired an unmarried teacher for being pregnant.

"I don't understand how a religion that prides itself on forgiving and on valuing life could terminate me because I'm pregnant and choosing to have this baby," Michelle McCusker said Monday at a news conference to announce the suit.

The 26-year-old preschool teacher was fired last month from St. Rose of Lima in Queens, according to published reports. (Watch what was in her termination letter -- 1:36)

The Diocese of Brooklyn also was named in the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint.

"This is a difficult situation for every person involved, but the school had no choice but to follow the principles contained in the teachers' personnel handbook," diocese spokesman Frank DeRosa said in a news release.

The handbook says that each teacher must "convey the teachings of the Catholic faith by his or her words and actions."

Lawyers at the NYCLU, which filed the suit on McCusker's behalf, argued that administrators enforced the policy in a way that disproportionately affects women.

"The school used her pregnancy as a marker," attorney Cassandra Stubbs said. "How do they determine if male employees engage in premarital sex?"--

Oh, all this brouhaha over something simple. She doesn't understand how she got fired? I could tell her. See, you teach in a Catholic school, and the handbook for your job says that you are to follow Catholic teachings and set a good exmple for your students. And you're not doing that if you're getting pregnant out of wedlock with no "wed" in the future. That's not Church policy. So you probably shouldn't be working in a Catholic school if you're not too keen on following what the Church teaches. You knew what you were getting into when you took the job and (presumably) read the handbook. Kudos to the Diocese and the school for having the courage to do the right thing. The NYCLU is in on this, of course, so we'll have to see how it turns out in court, but for now I'm happy that somewhere in this country bishops and principals are still standing up for what the Church believes in.

And as for the male employees--sure, premarital sex is against Church doctrine. But you can't really (well, OK, I guess you could) pass around a survey every day asking the teachers if they've engaged in fornication. And how would you know they weren't lying? Pregnancy, on the other hand, is pretty unmistakable. Is it fair to women? Probably not. But that's the way the cookie crumbles, kids. Lesson? Don't have pre-marital sex and teach at a Catholic school. Not a good idea.


Andrea said...

I think this is pretty interesting. I agree that that's part of teaching at a Catholic/religious school - you need to set a good example for your students. Afterall, if you aren't even living up to what you are teaching, why would the kids feel like they have to?

However (just to play devil's advocate here :-), which you know I love to do), I am concerned that policies like this could cause teachers to have abortions just to keep it a secret. However, this is also against church policy. I feel like that in the situation she was in, she had no other choice. Of course, she shouldn't have gotten pregnant in the first place. Anyway, just throwing that out there!

Emily said...

Oh I totally agree that a policy like this could backfire and end up with teacher's having abortions. That would not be good (actually worse) than having the child out of wedlock. I'm not sure how the school would find out about that in the first place though, unless they somehow found it out through insurance...I'm not sure how these things work. But as an alum of a Catholic grade school, it burns me up to see Pro-Choice bumper stickers on teacher's cars in the parking lot of the school I used to attend, and it makes me wonder what kind of education our kids are getting at some of these schools. I don't think my parents paid for me to learn this new catechism!