In an all-too-familiar storyline, a Catholic high school in Ohio has dismissed a beloved gay teacher for exercising his freedom to marry.
In this case, the timing is somewhat peculiar given that the teacher, James Zimmerman (pictured), reportedly tied the knot with his husband in 2016.
Perhaps administrators at Archbishop Alter High School in Kettering, where Zimmerman has taught English for the last 23 years, viewed the COVID-19 crisis as a potential distraction from their dirty deed. Or, who knows, maybe Zimmerman was emboldened to come out to his students during distance learning.
That’s all speculation because — as seems to be the norm in these cases — school principal Lourdes Lambert isn’t really talking, other than to say that a “concern” about Zimmerman was sent directly to the Cincinnati archdiocese, and calling the situation “unfortunate.” In fact, much of what is known comes from a former student, David Beck, who summarized the situation on Facebook.
“It has been brought to my attention from several trusted sources that my 11th grade high school honors English teacher Jim Zimmerman has been fired from his job at Archbishop Alter High School in Kettering, Ohio for being married to a man,” Beck wrote. “He’s been married since 2016, one year after marriage equality passed…Supposedly some misguided soul found his marriage certificate and brought it to the attention of the Archdiocese. How convenient that he is fired now, during the pandemic, as to sweep it so easily under the rug. If these reports are true, this is blatant discrimination, and we need to band together to stop it.”
The Dayton Daily News reports: Teachers in Catholic Archdiocese of Cincinnati schools sign an annual “teacher-minister” contract that includes an agreement to refrain from any conduct that is “in contradiction to Catholic social doctrine or morals.” Examples listed in the contract include “cohabitation outside marriage, sexual activity out of wedlock and same-sex sexual activity,” among several others. The contract also says promoting such conduct as being acceptable also is a violation. Several Alter High School graduates and supporters of the teacher argued on social media against the removal this week, with one calling the moving hypocritical and another saying she would stop donating to the school. Others praised the educator’s ability as a teacher, while one said the teacher displayed “Jesus’ teachings of love and acceptance.” The school posted a statement on its Facebook page Monday, citing “a great deal of online and social media discussion” on the issue, and saying the school must “adhere to Archdiocesan policy.” The post later was taken down.
A Change.org petition calling for Zimmerman’s reinstatement has garnered more than 10,000 signatures in just two days.
“He is the favorite teacher for many of the students and well known by students who don’t even have him in class. He is a teacher who does not just teach the curriculum but also teaches important life lessons,” Michael Ferguson wrote in the petition. “The Church has always told me and my fellow students to love and accept others. … But what the Archdiocese is doing is not accepting nor loving Mr. Zimmerman but pushing him away just because who he loves.”