A guidance counselor at a Catholic high school in Indianapolis was fired after marrying another woman. She has now filed a lawsuit against the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Indianapolis, NBC OUT reports.
Shelly Fitzgerald married her wife in 2014. She worked at Roncalli High School as a guidance counselor for 15 years, and she always kept her sexuality private in order to keep her job.
But last year, someone outed Fitzgerald by sending her marriage license to a school administrator. Shortly after, she was placed on administrative leave. She was told to either resign, “dissolve” her marriage, or keep quiet until her contract expired.
“I told them, you know, I’ve been quiet for 15 years so why is this different?” Fitzgerald told WTHR in 2018. “I mean I’ve hidden everything from social media. I’ve hidden from people I love because I knew I was at risk for losing my job over this. I have no intention of resigning. I have no intention of being quiet.”
She was later fired.
In the lawsuit, Fitzgerald claims that the archdiocese discriminated against her based on her sex. The school, Roncalli High School, is also named as a defendant on the suit.
The suit reads: “Though the Defendants claim they took adverse actions against Fitzgerald because her actions allegedly contradicted the teaching of the Catholic Church, they took and take no similar actions against male and/or heterosexual employees whose actions also contradict the teaching of the Catholic Church.”
Two other gay staffers have also sued the city’s archdiocese over workplace discrimination, including one other lesbian guidance counselor from Roncalli High, Lynn Starkey.
Fitzgerald’s case has become high-profile and was even featured at the LGBTQ Presidential Forum.
“I don’t have any expectations except to be a catalyst for change and love,” she said.