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Federal lawsuit against Roncalli, Archdiocese of Indianapolis filed by former counselor Shelly Fitzgerald

Shelly Fitzgerald

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.– Former Roncalli High School Guidance counselor Shelly Fitzgerald has filed a federal lawsuit against the school and the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.

Fitzgerald’s story first came to light in August, when she said the school suspended her after discovering she was married to a woman. Fitzgerald had worked at the school for 15 years and has been with the same partner for 22 years. The school said her same-sex marriage is a violation of her contract with the school.

In her filing, she says she never was classified as a ministerial employee, and her position as guidance counselor did not require any religious instruction or training.

She claims the school wrongfully discriminated and retaliated against her for her activism in opposing what she claims are unlawful practices.

The filing also alleges the school created a hostile work environment after choosing to not renew her contract.

She’s requesting a trial by jury.

Fitzgerald has previously filed multiple discrimination charges with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Another former counselor, Lynn Starkey, has also filed a lawsuit.

The Archdiocese of Indianapolis released this statement:

“Catholic schools exist to communicate the Catholic faith to the next generation. To accomplish their mission, Catholic schools ask all teachers, administrators, and guidance counselors to uphold the Catholic faith by word and action, both inside and outside the classroom. If a school’s leaders reject core aspects of the Catholic faith, it undermines the school’s ability to accomplish its mission. Because of that, the Supreme Court has repeatedly recognized that religious schools have a constitutional right to hire leaders who support the schools’ religious mission.

Many families in our community have sacrificed so their children can attend schools where they will learn the Catholic faith. They rely on the Archdiocese to uphold the fullness of Catholic teaching throughout its schools, and the Constitution fully protects the Church’s efforts to do so.” 

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