Scroll To Top

Teachers Ousted From Catholic School Say Anti-LGBTQ+ Bias to Blame

Teachers Ousted From Catholic School Say Anti-LGBTQ+ Bias to Blame

Graduation ceremony at St. Thomas Aquinas High School

Those who've recently lost their jobs at St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Dover, N.H., say it was because they're members or supporters of the LGBTQ+ community.

Several teachers have lost their jobs at a Catholic school in New Hampshire, and they say it’s because they are members or supporters of the LGBTQ+ community.

St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Dover did not renew the contracts of four faculty members, and two others “have made personal decisions to not return next year,” the school’s president, Paul Marquis, told Seacoast Online, a site for several area newspapers. However, a GoFundMe page raising money to assist the faculty members describes them all as “terminated.”

“While St. Thomas Aquinas High School denies these teachers were not renewed as part of an anti-LGBTQ+ movement, critical-thinking students, parents, and community members see a clear correlation,” the GoFundMe page says. The teachers’ names have not been made public.

The actions came after the school announced plans to have teachers participate in training provided by Person and Identity, an anti-transgender project of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, a right-wing think tank. The project’s website denounces “gender ideology,” which it says “is an erroneous system of beliefs about the human person, with philosophical roots in nihilism, atheism, Marxist-feminism, and queer theory,” adding that “psychological and medical interventions based on gender ideology are causing serious harm, especially to children, adolescents, and other vulnerable persons.”

Marquis denied that the school would be using the program and said it is simply one of one of the resources that the Diocese of Manchester, N.H., makes available.

Several people have accused the school of anti-LGBTQ+ bias. The Roman Catholic Church teaches that same-sex relationships are wrong and that gender is fixed at birth, but some Catholic institutions have adopted a more welcoming attitude toward LGBTQ+ people.

Kevin Collins, a former St. Thomas Aquinas principal, commented in a private Facebook group on the issues raised by Catholic dogma. He allowed Seacoast Online to quote from the private group, called #SaintsShame — St. Thomas Aquinas Alumni, reflecting a hashtag being used across social media. He said his post did not deal with the school’s current administration.

“Back in the day,” he wrote, "we prided ourselves on being an open and welcoming institution to [LGBTQ+ students] — and I do believe that compared to many other schools (especially in the 80’s and 90’s), we were exactly that…to a degree. … When we said that we were ‘welcoming,’ it came with a caveat: We care for you, but we cannot acknowledge who you truly are. And so, many LGBTQ+ students who graduated from STA have admitted that, in general, they did not feel part of the school while they were there. They did feel accepted and supported by individual teachers and staff, but not necessarily by the school as a whole. I can understand that. After all, if Catholic teaching cannot accept all of the aspects of LGBTQ+ life then, at some level, the school is denying their full existence.”

Casey Flanagan, a trans alum of the school who has two siblings currently attending, expressed disappointment but not surprise at recent events. “I feel simultaneously disappointed, angry and sad, but not surprised just given my experience at the school and information that I have about religion, the Catholic Church, and how they view trans people specifically as well as the wider LGBTQ+ community,” they told Seacoast Online. “But there has been a silver lining. I am extremely pleased that everyone is so upset about it. Not that I want everyone to be upset, but it feels validating in some way.”

Jennifer MacNeil, who started the GoFundMe campaign with Erin Jacobsen, told the site that the school has changed in recent years, and not for the better where LGBTQ+ people are concerned. “This fundraiser was created to support the teachers and administrators whose lives have been abruptly upended by these recent changes and subsequent decisions of the diocese,” said MacNeil, the mother of two recent St. Thomas Aquinas graduates. “Shining a positive light on the individuals who have been known to be supportive of the LGBTQ+ students, who once felt welcome and safe at STA, is very important. High school is a time in a child’s life when they are vulnerable and in need of a loving and supportive school community.” These supportive people act out of a personal faith that “does not need to be dictated by a few people with power and influence,” she said.

She called for the Diocese of Manchester to intervene. “I believe the diocese needs to take a pause and reflect,” she said. “I believe they should have an open, in-person conversation with past and present STA students, teachers, stakeholders, and all Seacoast area community members. My hope would be for the diocese to follow the model of Notre Dame University, Loyola University Maryland, and many other Catholic universities that respect, welcome, and even celebrate their LGBTQ+ members.”

Advocate Magazine - KehlaniAdvocate Channel Promotion

From our Sponsors

Most Popular

Be sure to follow Advocate on your favorite social platforms!


Want more news, top stories, and videos? Check out the all NEW Advocate Channel!
Your 24/7 streaming source for equality news and lifestyle trends.
Click this link right now:

Latest Stories