After nine years of teaching chemistry and coaching two teams at Marian High, Barbara Webb is absent from Marian High -- fired after disclosing that she's a lesbian mother-to-be.
It is part of Marian's mission to educate women about human diversity."
Webb, 33, tells the Free Press she was fired last month because the "the public, visible nature of a pregnancy" conflicts with the Bloomfield Hills parochial school's morality clause barring a “lifestyle or actions directly contradictory to the Catholic faith."
“That you can’t hide a pregnancy from the public is why I was terminated,” she's quoted as saying. "She learned she was pregnant in June, told her employer in July and was fired in mid-August," Robert Allen and Katrease Stafford write, based on Webb's account.
The school’s president, Sister Lenore Pochelski, confirmed Tuesday that Webb’s employment ended on about Aug. 19. But she declined to comment
Webb and her partner of more than five years, Kristen Lasecki, live in Madison Heights.
The popular ex-teacher, who also coached volleyball and softball, describes her job loss in a 13-paragraph Facebook note for friends, students, parents and others. "Keep love and compassion as your focus," she urges supporters, who include students posting effusive praise. The note has 78 comments and is shared about 1,030 times.
Say or do what you can to bring positive change to the world, but please, please, don't participate in hatred of any kind even if you believe it is for a good cause. . . .
Speak out against hate wherever you see it. Whether it's writing a letter or calling Marian or setting a safe place in your own school or business. Don't be afraid to be the change that so many of us need you to be. It is only when the masses can stand up to injustice that we all may have a chance to fulfill our life dreams and ambitions.
In the social media statement, Webb says: "My intention is not to bad-mouth Marian." She reiterated that to the Freep.
The Facebook post also says her abrupt departure "is a shame because Marian is an amazing school with a wonderful staff and a very promising student body."
I feel horrible for the students that I was forced to leave behind and wish them only the best. I feel sickened for my colleagues who are disgusted with this decision but are forced into silence for fear for their own jobs.
It is part of Marian's mission to educate women about human diversity and in this have really missed out on a true life opportunity to set an example. Instead they are only perpetuating hate. . . . Every act of justice that we can do collectively gets us one step further to a truly recognized human diversity.
Expressions of support from past and present Marian students are among the 78 comments on her social media page, such as these:
- "You were always there to help me, always," posts Marian junior Marren Taylor. "You loved your job, and that was so apparent. I am greatly sorry for you and anyone else in the LGBT community that feels like there is no way out. The Marian Junior class supports you!"
- "You were the best/my favorite teacher at Marian," posts MSU student Katherine Smythe, "and you better believe that I will be sending them many letters, emails and phone calls to show them that they need to change their ways."
- "You were THE best teacher at Marian and really the school isn't the same without you," posts Catherine Fassett. "It's their loss.. Thank you so much for all you did for all of us."
- "You are amazing and honestly such a great influence," writes Trish Dine of Troy. "Congrats on starting a wonderful family. I hope I see pictures soon!!"
- "Another Marian alumna standing firmly behind you," Kristen Beals Bellar posts from East Lansing..
- "You were my favorite teacher at Marian," adds Shannon Stork, now at Case Western Reserve University. "You inspired me as a teacher, a scientist, and a person, and I'm so glad I got to be in your classes not once but twice. I'm furious that Marian is making this decision, but then again, we all know that accepting diversity isn't and has never been one of the school's strengths. I'll definitely be contacting Marian. They could learn something from emulating the wonderful LGBT groups such as the one at my campus and amazing individuals such as you. You'll be an incredible mother."
In response to those posts and private messages, the former teacher and student government moderator says in a Facebook update signed "Ms. Webb:"
Oh my goodness, I can't put into words what it means to me to see so many people take an interest in this topic. Truly, truly, so many of you have brought me to tears with your statements of support.