Longtime teacher Tippi McCullough thinks it's wrong that she was forced to resign from her job at Mount St. Mary Academy in Arkansas, and now she wants an apology.
On Oct. 16, the same day that McCullough married her female partner, Barb Mariani, school administrators told her that she should resign from the Catholic school or face termination. Principal Diane Wolfe reportedly told McCullough she had violated her contract’s “morality clause,” which allows the school to fire employees who stray from Church lifestyle teachings.
"She told me she never thought the day would come, that I was a great teacher and that she would give me a glowing recommendation if I resigned," McCullough told the Arkansas Times. "She said her hands were tied when I signed a legal document."
Now that support for McCullough has spread around the country, she is calling for the school to adopt nondiscriminatory employment practices and offer her an apology, according to The Associated Press. McCullough appeared Tuesday at a news conference held by the Human Rights Campaign –- a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender advocacy group -- and said she was devastated by the situation.
"I just wanted to teach," McCullough said at the conference, according to the Arkansas Times. "My 15 years of commitment had been reduced to a mere label."
A statement released Friday by Mount St. Mary Academy CEO Karen Flake said the school could not release details surrounding the matter, although Flake suggested that McCullough’s lifestyle was in conflict with the schools Catholic values. The statement, obtained by local outlet KTHV-TV, reads in part:
Given that we are a Catholic school, we adhere to the teachings of the Catholic Church and have a responsibility to provide a solid Catholic formation for our students. Sometimes adherence to these teachings may be difficult and/or unpopular. However, our mission and core values as a Catholic school require that our actions be aligned with what we believe and teach.
The Human Rights Campaign has called on students, teachers and Mount St. Mary Academy community members to stand up for McCullough. One of the school’s students started an online petition asking the school to stop discriminatory practices.
"So many other teachers have signed that contract, and they probably use birth control or have had premarital sex or anything else that goes against Catholic beliefs," Gillian Gullett, a 10th-grader at the school, told local outlet Fox 16.