Some of you might have heard about a scandal that’s making the news. It involves the place where I grew up, suburban Detroit, Michigan, and it concerns the little Catholic school, Marian High School, that I graduated from.

In case you haven’t heard, here’s the news. Barb Webb is gay. A chemistry teacher at Marian (Bloomfield Hills, MI) for nine years and coach of various sports at the school, Barb Webb and her partner married two years ago. Before this fall semester began, she approached the school to tell them she was pregnant. The school immediately dismissed her from her employment there, urging her to sign forms that implied she was quitting rather than being fired, for what they termed her “nontraditional pregnancy.” According to this article in the Detroit Free Press, although Webb’s letter of termination didn’t state a firm reason, her previous conversations with school administrators “made clear the concerns had to do with a morality clause allowing for firing over public conduct of ‘lifestyle or actions directly contradictory to the Catholic faith.’”

And then we find ourselves here. A public outcry. A Facebook page. A petition. Several more articles like this one from the Washington Post about recent firings of teachers from Catholic schools for being gay and having children or getting married.

Why the outcry? So many reasons. Equal rights for all is one. Equal coverage under the law for committed partners who want to be together, have children together. The fact that in so many states you can be fired from your job just for being gay. But there is another issues here, especially since these are often religious institutions.


In every one of these instances that I have read about, the impetus for firing was a wedding or an adoption. A pregnancy or an engagement announcement. These are not sexy stories–not lewd headlines. These are people who are all trying to have a family, like anyone else in America. Trying to get pregnant (no accidental pregnancies when you’re gay!). Trying to get engaged, get married, and settle down with someone for life. These are stories of families. And these families are not being celebrated or encouraged. They are being fired. They are being ostracized. They are being humiliated.

There is a Facebook group for Barb Webb over 2700 strong. That’s 2700 people, many women, many graduates of Marian, who feel this was a crime. More than a mistake. More than an accident. A crime upon humanity–not anything the modern-day Catholic Church should be involved with, or stand for. As unlikely spiritual rock star and crusader of the Catholic Church Pope Francis has stated,

“A person once asked me, in a provocative manner, if I approved of homosexuality. I replied with another question: “Tell me: when God looks at a gay person, does he endorse the existence of this person with love, or reject and condemn this person?” We must always consider the person. — Interview with Jesuit Catholic journals, quoted in Huffington Post.

So Marian administration, and administrators of Catholic schools everywhere, I say unto you: are you considering the person? Are you loving your neighbor the way you yourself want to be loved? Are you judging not, lest you yourself be judged? Are you considering these words from the Bible, the holiest of all Christian texts?

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 1Cor 13:1-13

Are you celebrating this kind of family planning? Or are you so bogged down in what you see as the “rules” of your religion and the donor circle of older Catholics (and, let’s be honest, these “rules” are usually upheld out of fear of donations lost) that you have lost sight of what is really important: love. Faith. Kindness. Gentleness.

Marian and other schools, now is your time to act. Stand in the way. Be the change that is so important in the world: don’t hide your lights under a bushel! The former and current students need an apology. They need a change. They need a place to be diverse and celebrated, because they are diverse. And they deserve to be celebrated. And they need–no, they demand–that the change happens now, starts with you, and is permanent. We all need to know that beliefs, love, family, and faith in God and humanity are not just mantras you taught us to say. We need to know you believe in these ideals, too.

I guarantee you that if you stand up for what is right, the donations will still come. In fact, you might be pleasantly surprised by how many gay people and allies are wealthy.

Congratulations, Barb Webb! If you need any baby clothes, I’ve got tons for you.

Natural Family Planning: when you Plan to have a Family. Naturally.

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