Community rallies to support teachers in Cincinnati
When new teacher contracts were announced this spring in Cincinnati, Catholics rallied behind the teachers who were outraged at the strict new morality clauses which invade privacy and violate conscience rights.
Despite the fear of retribution, the local community group began talking immediately. Parishioners quickly voiced their concerns to their pastor and spread the word about the contract. They organized among existing networks of reform minded Catholics and quickly the movement grew to involve lawyers, PTA members and others connected with the schools. They stayed in contact with teachers, making sure to stand in solidarity with those who were afraid of losing their job.
Petitions gathered thousands of signatures and a vigil became a march to the Cathedral where they sang, prayed and let the officials know lay Catholics stand with the teachers. The group has also organized billboards around town that have gotten a lot of media coverage nationwide. Teachers have said the billboards, which read “Would Pope Francis sign the new Catholic teacher contract?” and the public outcry have really made them feel supported as they try to decide whether to sign the contract.
Several teachers have made the hard decision not to sign, including one who said she couldn’t pledge to avoid “public support of LGBT issues,” since her son is gay. We are sure she’s not the only one who had to struggle with the decision to keep her job or support her family member.
Similar contracts, which define teachers as “teacher-ministers,” thus stripping them of many rights under civil law, have been announced or rumored across the country. If you are as inspired as we are by the work of Catholics in Cincinnati to stand with the teachers, talk to the teachers in your diocese now and make sure they know they have your support. If you went to a Catholic school, talk to alumni so you can be ready if similar contracts are announced in your area, and check out our ever growing work on this important issue!