High School Fires Teacher After Her Partner’s Name Appeared In Her Mother’s Obituary

Carla Hale, a teacher in Clintonville, Ohio, was fired just days after an anonymous parent informed the school that her partner’s name had appeared in her mother’s obituary. Update- April 24, Hale’s grievance has been denied.

1. After 19 years as a physical education teacher, Carla Hale was suddenly fired last month.

An anonymous parent had written to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Columbus, appalled that Hale had listed her female partner’s name in an obituary. Just a few days after the letter was brought to the school’s attention, her employment was terminated. Hale recalls, “I was totally shocked. I mean, I think it was just one of those where everything was drained out of me.”

2. The Columbus Dispatch reports:

According to a contract between the Columbus diocese and the Central Ohio Association of Catholic Educators, teachers can be terminated for “immorality” or “serious unethical conduct.” George Jones, a spokesman for the diocese, had no comment yesterday, saying personnel matters are confidential.

Hale told reporters, “Bishop Watterson is an amazing place to be, with the staff, the faculty, it’s a very positive environment. If it wouldn’t have been for my mom’s obituary and my partner’s name being Julie and not Chris or Pat or whomever, I wouldn’t be in this situation right now. It would be Wednesday, 8th period, badminton tournament.”

5. Hale personally recalls the incident:

6. On Monday, a petition was initiated by students and friends demanding Hale’s reinstatement. It has since gained over 11,069 signatures.

Update: As of April 24, the petition has over 22,000 signatures.

7. The petition reads:

Discrimination is something that people have fought for generations. The most prominent form of discrimination in today’s society is discrimination on the basis of sexuality. Carla Hale, a beloved teacher at Bishop Watterson High School, was fired because of her sexuality. She was a teacher who cared for her students and treated each one with respect. The school, however, did not reciprocate that respect in its treatment of her. Discrimination and injustice is something that we all have a duty to fight in today’s society. It’s unfair that someone who cared so much about her students and her job should lose them on the basis of something she cannot even control. The school claims its mission is to teach its students about love, acceptance, and tolerance, and yet it did none of this in the way it treated Ms. Hale. That is why we all have to stand up together and let it be known that this decision is unacceptable. If we do not fight this issue now, it will happen again, and that is not something we can allow. When we allow injustice to go unnoticed and unpunished, we all are hurt. We have an obligation to Ms. Hale and ourselves to make sure the school hears us and decides to overturn its decision.

8. Students spoke out on her dismissal:

9. Former student Amanda Lux wrote on the petition page:

When I was a student at Bishop Watterson, we were always taught to treat others with dignity and compassion. As an alumni, I still credit Bishop Watterson with shaping me into the person I am today — both morally and ethically. I am deeply saddened to learn that, in spite of what Watterson taught me about respect for all humanity, a longstanding and well-respected faculty member was treated so unfairly.

10. A Facebook group has emerged in support of Hale:

The group has over 900 members and is urging people to reach out and sign petitions for Hale’s reinstatement.

11. And on Twitter, #halestorm is being used in support:

Fight discrimination. Join the #halestorm:

— thefinelli (@Amanda)

so proud to have been one of her students <3 #halestorm

— J_Harris611 (@Jessica Harris)

Bishop Watterson High School: Reinstate faculty member Carla Hale via @change #halestorm

— schultzohio (@Greg Schultz)

14. Hale has filed a grievance under the terms of the contract, seeking her job back. Her attorney, Thomas Tootle, said they are exploring other legal options.

Hale, a practicing Methodist, said she also hopes the reaction to her dismissal spurs Catholic leaders to reconsider their stance on gay relationships.

15. Update - April 24, 10:13 a.m.: Equality Ohio announces Carla Hale and her lawyer will announce the decision on the grievance she filed about losing her job at Bishop Watterson High School:

We are headed down to @stonewallcmh for the announcement of the Diocese case.

— EqualityOhio (@Equality Ohio)

17. April 24, 10:32 a.m.: It has been announced that her grievance was denied:

Carla Hale update: her grievance was denied. She will be seeking appeal and file a complaint with the City of Columbus.

— EqualityOhio (@Equality Ohio)

18. She reacted to the news this morning:

“I’ve loved my job, I don’t want money, I don’t want fame. I simply want to return to Bishop Watterson.”

19. According to Ms. Hale she was not fired for being gay, but rather because the publicization of her spousal relationship violates church teachings.

Reporters and Ms. Hale all confused on @BishopWatterson wording of reason of denial. #HaleStorm @stonewallcmh

— wsyx6 (@WSYX ABC 6)

"It's like not being fired for being a woman but being fired because you're pregnant." -Mr. Tootle, Carla Jake's attorney.

— EqualityOhio (@Equality Ohio)

Hale: Hopes this outpouring of support helps catholic youth out there questioning their sexuality #HaleStorm @BishopWatterson @stonewallcmh

— wsyx6 (@WSYX ABC 6)


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Sarah Karlan is the associate LGBT editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Sarah Karlan at
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