Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Lesbian Teacher Fired For Being Gay

Lisa Reimer, who taught at the independent Catholic school the Little Flower Academy, claims she was fired from her post at the Vancouver school after officials found out she was gay.

Reimer, whose partner has just had a baby, told reporters that the school had warned her not to tell parents and pupils at the school of her relationship and child, as "there would be a witch hunt".

The school told Reimer not to come in to work for the rest of her contract, which runs out in June. They will, however, pay her up until this point.
“You're employed ‘til the end of June 30, and you'll be paid out, but you're no longer allowed on campus to see the girls, and all classes have been cancelled.” Reimer said.

The school have asked her to mark papers whilst she is at home. “I feel like I've been fired with a payout. All the families have been told I am on a personal leave, which I am not.”

Reimer has been working from home since Monday. She says:
“They would not allow a gay or lesbian teacher to employ their girls for fear that it would lead them astray...I can't imagine how gay students at the school feel. It's so sad.”

Pupils at the school were shocked at the decision. One spoke out on the situation on Wednesday, saying:
“How is your sexual orientation going to affect your performance at work?”

The school knew Reimer’s sexuality and that her partner was expecting a baby.
“I was completely shocked ... because of their reaction when I told them in December we were having a family. They seemed so supportive I thought they would go to bat for me.” Reimer said.

She thought she had full support from her colleagues when she announced her partner was pregnant in December. However, parents at the school allegedly said they were concerned their daughters would “follow (her) lead” which lead to the schools decision.

Vice-president of the Vancouver Elementary School Teachers’ Association, Glen Hansman, said private schools should not receive public funding, as “This kind of discrimination and homophobia could never happen in a public school.”

“They cannot be discriminating against people like Lisa on the basis of family status or sexual orientation,” James Chamberlain of the B.C. Teachers’ Federation added. He argues that private and independent schools should operate under the same standards that public schools do if they want to continue receiving public funding.

Also in support of Reimer’s plight are the Pride Education Network. Ken Collen of the PEN questioned why teachers with children out of wedlock have not received the same treatment.

“It is my understanding (in the Catholic religion) the sin is not to be gay ... the sin is to do something about it,” he said.
Reimer signed a Catholicity clause in her contract when she joined the school. She has been fired for breach of the act. The case continues.


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