Gay Former Teacher Sues Archdiocese

Joshua Payne Elliott is suing an archdiocese after they interfered with his contract and got him fired. Screenshot via WishTV video “Former teacher sues Archdiocese.”

Late last month a teacher was fired because of his sexuality as the archdiocese who runs the school decided that they didn’t want a gay person to work there. Now, teacher Joshua Payne-Elliott decided to sue the archdiocese because he claims that they interfered with his employment contract when they asked the school to fire him, according to Huffington Post.

Joshua and his husband decided not to reveal their identities before the lawsuit was filed on Wednesday. Both he and his husband, Layton are teachers in two separate Indiana schools, both owned by the Indianapolis Archdiocese. Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School, the school that Layton works at, was told that they had to fire the gay teacher but the staff and administration refused to fire a competent teacher on the basis of sexuality and, as a result, is no longer recognized as Catholic by archbishop Charles Thompson.

However, the school that Joshua worked at, Cathedral Highschool, had different ideas. According to the leaders of Cathedral Highschool, the school relies heavily on the archdiocese so they fired him in fear of losing their nonprofit status and ability to offer the Eucharist. That sounds pretty controlling to me… Joshua had worked in Cathedral Highschool for sixteen years as a social studies teacher. The school allegedly announced that they will be extending his contract for the years 2019-2020, but was instructed to instead fire him by the Archdiocese because the school can’t have a teacher in a “public same-sex marriage here and remain Catholic.” I would understand if the guy was a murderer or something but firing him because he’s gay and married just reeks of discrimination to me. 

According to Joshua’s lawyer, he had reached a settlement with Cathedral Highschool in which they will help him find further employment. He has said that he does not wish any harm to Cathedral and did not include the Archdiocese in the settlement. Joshua also filed a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission as he feels that he was discriminated against based on his sexuality. 

The Indianapolis Archdiocese stands by their decision, as they claim that teachers in Catholic schools are ministers and, as such, have to abide by the rules of Catholicism, which means that they can’t be in a same-sex relationship and that because of religious liberty laws they should be free to fire someone based on sexuality.  

I try to avoid talking about my personal feelings towards religion and religious liberty laws, but I personally think that it is a bit ridiculous to fire a great teacher who has worked in the same school for sixteen years because of his sexuality and just because a religious figure said so. I’m hoping that Joshua wins this lawsuit and that it sets a precedent that shows that people shouldn’t be able to fire someone because they’re gay. 

Source: Huffington Post

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