Second Roncalli High School counselor to lose job because of same-sex marriage

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – A second counselor at Roncalli High School will lose her job because of her same-sex marriage.

Lynn Starkey served as a counselor at the school, and she was co-director of guidance with Shelly Fitzgerald. Recently, Roncalli officials told Starkey they will not renew her contract for the 2019-2020 school year.

"Starkey’s 39 years of exemplary employment, including Teacher of the Year recognition in 2009, will end because she is in a same-sex marriage and because she filed discrimination complaints on November 16, 2018," Starkey's lawyer Kathleen DeLaney said.

“It’s a terrible way to cap off a 39-year career,” said DeLaney.

The discrimination charge Starkey filed against the Catholic school and the Archdiocese of Indianapolis back in November claims she was discriminated against based on her sexual orientation. Today, Starkey filed Amended Charges of Discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against Roncalli High School and the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. "These filings address her termination and reiterate her allegations of discrimination and hostile work environment based on sex, sexual orientation, and retaliation all in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964,"  DeLaney said.

Starkey has been in a civil union with her spouse since 2015. She is the second school counselor to lose her job because of her same-sex marriage.

“There are more than 60 schools in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis and thousands of employees and Shelly Fitzgerald and Lynn Starkey are the only ones we know of who have been asked, are you violating church teachings?” said DeLaney.

Fitzgerald worked at Roncalli for 15 years when officials placed her on leave on August 12, 2018 after they found out she married a woman.

Starkey says two days later, Roncalli Principal Chuck Weisenbach asked Starkey if she had a civil union, and she answered truthfully that she does. Starkey  says she is not aware of any situation, other than herself and Fitzgerald, where the principal has asked an employee about potential violations of Church teachings.

The school says same-sex marriage violates their contracts. The Archdiocese responded with this statement:

Contracts for school ministerial positions are one (1) year contracts. The contract specifically states: “This contract is not automatically renewable. The School Guidance Counselor has no right to, or the promise of a contract exceeding the school year.”

Ms. Starkey is currently in breach of her contract with Roncalli High School, because she is in a civil union that is considered “contrary to a valid marriage as seen through the eyes of the Catholic Church.”

The 2019-2020 contract language will contain the same language. Therefore, Ms. Starkey could not in good faith enter into the contract so long as she is unable to abide by the terms of the contract.

“It also sends the wrong message to the students who go to school there,” said DeLaney, “Some of whom are members of the LGBTQ community.”

Delaney says now they’ll wait for two-months. Then, Starkey can try her case in court. Once the EEOC completes its review, Starkey intends to sue the Archdiocese and the School.

“A trial and a jury would decide what the outcome would be,” said DeLaney.

We also reached out to Roncalli High School and have not heard back.

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