A family hired Wilhelmina Indermaur to be an in-school aide for their child who has disabilities at Immaculata Catholic School in Durham, local TV station WTVD reports.
Indermaur had been hired as an independent contractor by the child’s family because the girl would start school at Immaculata in the fall, according to Indy Week.
Besides knowing the child’s needs, the 30-year-old had experience as an educator, having graduated from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and taught for three years before the pandemic.
She was also deeply rooted in Immaculata, having nannied for several children who went to the school. She also regularly attended Mass at the school's governing parish, Immaculate Conception.
Indermaur said she was delighted when the student’s parents asked her to be an in-class aide. Her background check had been successful, and other parents and teachers had expressed excitement about her new opportunity, according to Indy Week.
However, Indermaur received a tearful phone call several weeks ago.
The student’s parents informed her that Immaculate Conception’s pastor, Jacek Orzechowski, had called an emergency meeting with the parish clerical and school administrative staff. During the meeting, Orzechowski said she couldn’t work on Immaculata’s campus because she is transgender, according to Indermaur.
Now, Indermaur needs a job in the fall, and the family needs to find a new in-class aide for the fifth-grade student, who is not verbal and needs help with mobility.
“It was devastating,” Indermaur told Indy Week. “It was really, really hurtful. I didn’t eat for a couple days. I prayed a lot. I cried a lot.”
It made her feel like she had no place in the church and as if she was “not appropriate to be around students in their school setting,” she said.
“I don’t feel like I can go near Immaculata,” Indermaur told the outlet. “I’ve been avoiding driving past it. I don’t know if I’ll ever feel welcome there again.”
“Regardless of my gender or my religion, I’m a person,” she told North Carolina cable channel Spectrum 1. “All people are deserving of respect, and we all have feelings, and we all have good to put in the world.”
A teacher aide at Immaculata, Angela Belusik, said she had been excited to have Indermaur at the school. She told Indy Week that students had spoken positively of Indermaur.
“What the kids would see is a loving, caring human able to care for another individual. And they would learn from that how to be compassionate humans,” Belusik said. “This is not teaching them compassion.”
Indermaur told WTVD that the student not having an aide right now is a problem. "That is a huge disservice to children and students at the school. Makes me wonder what other students' needs aren't being met," she said.
She also slammed the school for having posted a photo in June with the caption, "Happy Pride Month! Immaculate Conception welcomes members of the LGBTQ community."
"All people belong in the Catholic Church if they want to be and this is the most un-Christ-like behavior they could have had," she said.
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