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Gay faculty firings prompt uproar

  • Article by: Jessica Bock and Lilly Fowler
  • St. Louis Post-Dispatch
  • September 2, 2014 - 10:40 PM

– The termination of two gay faculty members at a Missouri all-girls Catholic high school has prompted an outcry from alumnae.

In recent weeks, alumnae concerned about the firings of Christina Gambaro and Olivia Reichert have created a private Facebook group with more than 2,000 members in support of the couple, urging supporters to call and write to leaders of Cor Jesu Academy in Affton and voice their concerns.

That outcry has led some to vow to no longer financially support Cor Jesu and encourage others to also withhold donations.

Attorney and Cor Jesu graduate Michelle Rich, for example, wrote in a Facebook posting that she was “appalled and disappointed by the current administration’s actions.” She noted that although her family had been a large donor to the school in the past, she would be discontinuing any further financial support.

Cor Jesu is in the midst of its “One-Heart-One-Spirit-One-Vision” capital campaign for a new chapel, gym, student commons, additional parking and to grow its endowment fund.

Reichert said she and her partner were forced to resign in late July after the school said it received a copy of a mortgage application with the couple’s names. The school said the couple had violated the moral contract faculty are required to sign as part of employment. The couple had married in New York over the summer.

“We understand that, as a Catholic institution, Cor Jesu has an obligation to ensure that its employees serve as Christian role models. However, because they do not enforce the witness statement in any other way, this is a blatant case of discrimination,” Reichert said in a statement.

In response to questions, a statement from Cor Jesu said the school “does not publicly discuss personnel matters.”

Many are concerned not only about Gambaro and Reichert, but how the decision to fire gay faculty will affect current and future Cor Jesu students.

In response, the Chargers Allies, another Facebook group with more than 200 members and growing, was created as “a safe space where both members of the LGBTQ community and those who support them can connect and hopefully find a way to create change at Cor Jesu Academy.”

Chargers Allies member Coco Fernandez, an alumna who lives in Chicago, said she wants everyone at Cor Jesu to “feel welcomed and accepted as who they are, regardless of sexual orientation.”

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