Two Gay Employees Fired And Fighting Back

A lesbian in Maryland and a gay man in California are both fighting for their jobs in the education and child care field after being terminated, seemingly only for their sexual orientations.

BY Michelle Garcia

June 06 2012 3:38 PM ET

Pomona, Calif.: Mitch Stein (left) with his partner Hugo Horta, and two daughters

A woman who was fired from her job at a school for troubled girls says that  it was because of her sexual orientation, and not her job performance.

Sarah Rutledge, 29, filed a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, as well as the Maryland Commission on Civil Rights, according to the Herald-Mail. Rutledge claims she and her marriage were mocked by coworkers at San Mar Children’s Home. One coworker told her that it was simply wrong to be gay.

In September 2011, she was put on probationary status and told that she would have to meet certain goals, including not talking about her spouse. She was discharged from her job three months later.

San Mar provides care to girls who have been abused, molested, or experienced trauma. Rutledge also said her coworkers created a hostile environment for the girls. Rutledge was told that she could not help gender non-conforming girls dress more in line with how they identified, even though her coworkers were allowed to bring in stereotypically feminine clothes for the residents. One of the girl residents was also told to remove a gay pride poster from her wall and another resident was told she could not paint a rainbow mural because it symbolized gay pride.

Administrators for San Mar said Rutledge was not fired for her sexual orientation, but would not comment any further on the situation.

Meanwhile in Pomona, Calif., a gay father and assistant water polo coach was told that he was being released from his position because of old Facebook and MySpace photos that school administrators thought were too racy, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Television producer Mitch Stein, who coaches for the Charter Oak Unified School District, was told that his photos—one of him eating a corn dog, and the other of him surrounded by drag queens on Halloween—were too provocative. Stein said he posted the photos years ago, before beginning employment at Charter Oak, where his 15-year-old daughter attends school.

The photos were anonymously sent to principal Kathleen Wiard. After being questioned by her, Stein said the principal seemed to equate homosexuality with pedophilia. Stein's first inclination was to leave, but his daughter encouraged him to fight. He has since filed a wrongful termination suit against the school district in the Los Angeles County Superior Court.

An assistant superintendent also declined to further discuss the matter, but he told the Times that Charter Oak faculty and coaches are held to a "higher standard."

Both Maryland and California prohibit workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

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