Counselor files suit after losing job due to same-sex marriage

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A guidance counselor is filing suit after her contract wasn’t renewed due to her same-sex marriage.

Lynn Starkey, former co-director of guidance at Roncalli High School, has filed a lawsuit against the school and the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.

On May 1, Starkey learned her contract wasn’t being renewed after working at the school for 39 years.

The school says Starkey’s same-sex marriage violates her written employment agreement.

She has also filed a discrimination complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

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Shelly Fitzgerald, Roncalli’s other co-director of guidance, was also let go from the school over her same-sex marriage. Fitzgerald has said she intends to sue the archdiocese.

Joshua Payne-Elliott, a former teacher at Cathedral High School, has also filed a lawsuit against the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.

The Archdiocese of Indianapolis released this statement Monday afternoon:

Catholic schools exist to communicate the Catholic faith to the next generation. To accomplish their mission, Catholic schools ask all teachers, administrators, and guidance counselors to uphold the Catholic faith by word and action, both inside and outside the classroom. If a school’s leaders reject core aspects of the Catholic faith, it undermines the school’s ability to accomplish its mission. Because of that, the Supreme Court has repeatedly recognized that religious schools have a constitutional right to hire leaders who support the schools’ religious mission.
As head guidance counselor, Ms. Starkey signed a contract acknowledging her role as a leader and committing to promote Catholic teaching, including the traditional Catholic teaching on marriage. She knowingly violated that contract by entering a same-sex civil union—making clear that she disagrees with the Church’s teaching on marriage and will not be able to uphold and model it for her students. Thus, her lawsuit is clearly barred by Supreme Court precedent.
Many families in our community have sacrificed so their children can attend schools where they will learn the Catholic faith. They rely on the Archdiocese to uphold the fullness of Catholic teaching throughout its schools, and the Constitution fully protects the Church’s efforts to do so.