UPDATE: Students at Mount St. Mary’s have started a petition saying that McCullough should not lose her job. The kids are all right. Go sign it. And if you want to be filled with hope for the younger generations, stick around on the petition site and read the comments from students. They are all like, clearly, this is WRONG. My favorite comment so far? “Mount taught me to speak up for Mercy Values so now it’s kind of hard to shut up.” (Mount St. Mary’s is a Sisters Of Mercy school.)
Mount Saint Mary Academy in Little Rock, Arkansas, is under fire today for threatening to fire Tippi McCullough, a beloved teacher who has served the school for fifteen years, simply because she married the love of her life, Barb Mariani. The Human Rights Campaign is leading the charge to bring national attention to this issue, perhaps in part because HRC President Chad Griffin, like me, is a native Arkansan:
The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, is calling on Mount St. Mary’s Academy in Little Rock, AR to immediately cease discriminatory employment practices targeting their LGBT teachers.
Yesterday, Tippi McCullough, a teacher at Mount St. Mary’s, traveled to New Mexico to marry her partner of 14 years, Barb Mariani. According to Mariani, shortly after their wedding ceremony, a secretary at the school called Tippi and said that if she got married she would be fired—telling her that she was calling her for her own protection. Later, a second call came from the school principal, who, upon confirming Tippi had married her partner, purportedly told her, “I never thought this day would come, but I have to terminate you,” and that Tippi could resign to avoid being publicly fired.
“To fire a beloved teacher simply because she is gay is morally reprehensible,” said HRC President Chad Griffin, an Arkansas native. “At a moment when Pope Francis is urging the Catholic hierarchy to put aside judgment and a decades-long campaign targeting devoted LGBT Catholics, it’s shameful that this school is ignoring that hopeful message in favor of explicit and baseless discrimination.”
“It is impossible to believe that the first call we received after the most joyous occasion of our lives was a vocal pink slip,” said McCullough’s partner, Barb Mariani. “Tippi has been a beloved teacher at Mount St. Mary’s for 15 years and it’s a sad day when she is fired for doing nothing more than committing to the person she loves – me.”
According to Tippi’s wife, the school was well aware of her sexuality and her relationship with Barb, and only chose to take this heartless action because the couple got married. HRC points out that, as a private Catholic institution, the school has the right to engage in discriminatory hiring practices, but that “that doesn’t mean this kind of discrimination has to happen.”
So that readers are clear, Mount St. Mary’s is not a suburban school. It’s an old school in the middle of one of the most fun, open-minded, cultured parts of Little Rock, and I have several friends who are esteemed alumni of the school. This is not Backwoods Southern Baptist Academy we’re talking about.
In other words…
Mount St. Mary’s just stepped in it. Big time.
Arkansas Times has more.