A former social worker at an Indianapolis Catholic high school says she was fired for making public statements in support of LGBTQ colleagues who were terminated.
“If you publicly support, you know, (being) against discrimination ... you too, can be a victim of losing your job,” Kelley Fisher told IndyStar.
Fisher, who is straight and had been assigned to Roncalli High School, thinks that the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Indianapolis moved to have her fired because of two Facebook posts she shared in support of two lesbian guidance counselors who had worked at Roncalli for years before they were fired.
The archdiocese has previously said in a statement that the Supreme Court “has repeatedly recognized that religious schools have a constitutional right to hire leaders who support the schools’ religious mission.”
Fisher said that the Indianapolis archdiocese is “trying to say anyone who works for a Catholic school, that we are ministerial employees, and yet I have no training in it, I’m not a priest, I'm not a minister, and they have tried to say I have had training and I am a minister.”
But, Fisher said, she is a trained counselor: “I meet you where you're at, and value judgments don’t come into our session because that's not what counseling and social work is.”
Dominic Conover, a former Roncalli student and chair of Shelly’s Voice, an advocacy group formed to inspire a more inclusive LGBTQ community in Indianapolis’ Catholic schools, said Fisher “kind of served as my protection when I was there at that school” and visited her office almost daily.
“I would always go into her office and we would talk through things, but by the end of the year the administration found out that she was supporting me and came into our meetings and told me that I had to leave and that Kelley had to get permission to have me in her office,” Conover said in an interview with NBC News.
“The thing I really want to hit home is that I feel strongly about my ethics as a counselor, a social worker, and that we are bound by a code of ethics that we can't discriminate,” Fisher said.
Roncalli High School, a Catholic institution in Indianapolis, Indiana, is facing two discrimination lawsuits for firing two lesbian employees.
Shelly Fitzgerald, a former guidance counselor at Roncalli, was fired in 2018 after a parishioner shared her same-sex marriage license with a priest, who then shared it with the archbishop.
Fitzgerald on Monday filed a federal lawsuit that names Roncalli High School and the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Indianapolis as defendants. It alleges that by firing her, "defendants explicitly and impermissibly have discriminated because of sex."
Lynn Starkey, another lesbian guidance counselor who worked at Roncalli High, was fired in May and filed a lawsuit alleging the school was hostile toward homosexual students, faculty and staff.