A former Colorado school teacher is receiving an outpouring of support online after she was fired from her teaching position because school administrators discovered she was in a relationship with another woman.
In a phone call on January 25, Maggie Barton was told that the Archdiocese of Denver had obtained a photo of her kissing another woman, the Denver Postreports.
According to the All Souls Catholic School principal, Barton would be contacted by the Archdiocese and placed on paid leave pending the outcome of an investigation. Her employment was terminated the following day.
She worked at the K through 8 school as a technology teacher and a media specialist for six years.
The Archdiocese of Denver released a statement that claimed that public reporting around Barton’s firing was inaccurate.
All teachers in schools within the Archdiocese must sign a contract every year affirming that they will refrain “from taking any public position or conducting himself or herself in a manner that is contrary to the teachings of the Catholic Church,” according to the statement.
“In this case, the school was made aware that one of their teachers is in a same-sex relationship, and after discussing this with the teacher, learned that she intends to persist in violating the standards she previously agreed to uphold,” the statement reads. “An employee who violates any of the terms of their employment agreement knows from the outset of their work that they can’t remain employed at the school.”
The document states that the fact that she had a same-sex attraction was not itself cause for termination. However, continuing the relationship violated the terms of her employment agreement, the Archdiocese wrote.
The statement concludes, “Catholic teaching on sexual identity, marriage, family, and parenting are inseparable from the way we choose to live and interact. These teachings allow us to fully comprehend how to love God and neighbor. We believe that sexual expression contributes to human flourishing as it is integrated with a view toward its natural ends: faithful, covenantal love between a man and a woman, and a self-gift ordered toward procreation and joyful unity between spouses. Someone persisting in a lifestyle contrary to these views will find it difficult to teach them to our students.”
Barton attended Catholic schools in Texas as a child, Colorado Public Radio reports.
During her first year at St. Edward’s University in Austin, she came out to her family and friends and has lived as an out queer woman. She says that in addition to her regular attendance at mass and the sum of her experiences inspired her to work in a Catholic school.
“It’s just the idea of love and community within Catholic schools is something that is very familiar to me. It’s what I’ve known my whole life,” Barton told the station. “I was drawn to that because it’s something that I have known and loved.”
She accepted the All Souls position in 2017 and moved to Colorado. As she looks for new work, the community at All Souls has been very supportive. Some parents of students at the school have even set up a GoFundMe to help her with her job search expenses.
“This site was set up by a parent who knows so many want to show Ms. Barton support. They want to help Maggie in some small way so that finances are not causing stress at this time in her life,” wrote the fundraiser’s creator. “We’re hoping to help bridge the gap till Ms. Barton finds the next step in her career.”
The goal was set at $1, but at the time of publication, the verified fundraiser has earned more than $23,000.
(Image above: The group of Catholic leaders that comprises the Archdiocese that fired the teacher.)