Catholic High School Teacher With 18 Years Tenure Fired After Telling Colleagues She Is Gay

At a faculty workshop at Totino-Grace Catholic High School in Fridley, Minnesota, Kristen Ostendorf told her colleagues “I’m gay, I’m in a relationship with a woman, and I’m happy.” She said the “make your mark” theme of the workshop combined with the firing of the school president (also gay) in July prompted her to come out to her co-workers. But the next day the school administration told her she must resign or face termination. She did not want to quit her job and so the school promptly fired her. — Kristen Ostendorf was a campus minister, English teacher and coach at the Catholic high school. She contacted Outfront Minnesota, an LGBT advocacy group, shortly after her employment was terminated Aug. 22, according to Outfront communications director Jean Heyer.

“I can confirm that I am no longer employed by Totino-Grace. I am profoundly sad to have to leave a job I have loved for more than eighteen years in a community that was like family to me,” Ostendorf said in a statement released by Outfront.

Kelly Refsnider, director of constituent relations at Totino-Grace, declined to comment on the reason for the termination.

There’s really no recourse here because (a) it’s a religious institution and (b) gays have no real protections from job discrimination under the law.

And if you need an example of why religiosity is declining in America, this story is it. Younger members of society see stories like this and turn away in revulsion. And while it’s true that America sometimes seems like it’s more religious than ever, don’t mistake the loud voice from the Christian Right for a movement with staying power. Their numbers are still large, but they are dwindling with each passing year. Obnoxious and narrow-minded worldviews are in decline, replaced by acceptance, tolerance and an embrace of both our similarities and our differences.

Kristen ostendorf


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