Students Protest In Support Of Dismissed Bishop Watterson Teache - NBC4: Columbus, Ohio News, Weather, and Sports (WCMH-TV)

Students Protest In Support Of Dismissed Bishop Watterson Teacher

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Carla Hale Carla Hale

Students from Bishop Watterson High School protested Friday to show their support for their former teacher who was fired after her partner's name appeared in her mother's obituary.

Dozens of Watterson students held a protest outside the Catholic Diocese of Columbus offices in downtown, and let the church know that they think Carla Hale should be allowed to return to work.

The students said they believe it's time for the church to change its view on same-sex relationships.

"We're just trying to prove that the generation of Catholics that's growing up now is really accepting, and that we want change in the church because we think equality should be there for everyone," said Jaide Reinhard, a Bishop Watterson High School junior.

"I just think that what they did to Ms. Hale is wrong, honestly. Even though it is against the Catholic Church, it's definitely not the Catholic way to do this," said Joe Jeffries, a Bishop Watterson High School senior.

Hale, who had taught at the school for 19 years, said she had taken her older brother's advice to include her partner's name while writing her mother's obituary about an hour after she had died.

A week later, the Bishop Watterson gym teacher and coach says she was called to the principal's office where she saw the anonymous letter a parent had sent to the Catholic Diocese of Columbus. The letter stated how appalled the parent was seeing a woman's name in the obituary next to Hale's.

According to Hale's attorney, a student at the school had asked her mother to pray for Hale because she had recently lost her mother. The student's mother then noticed the obituary, and wrote an anonymous letter to the Catholic Diocese of Columbus. Hale was later fired a week and a half later, on Holy Thursday, March 28.

Hale's attorney, Tom Tootle said they will file a complaint with Columbus' community relations committee, which investigates cases of discrimination that violate the city's civil rights code.

In Columbus, there is a municipal ordinance that was passed in 2008 that protects people from being fired for their sexual orientation, and there are no exceptions in that ordinance for religious institutions.

Once the investigation is complete, it moves to the full commission. If there is probable cause, a hearing is called.

The entire process could take four to six months, but could end if Hale and the Diocese agree to mediation.

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