At Totino-Grace, fired for being gay

The must-read story of the day comes from MinnPost where Jim Walsh sat down yesterday with Kristen Ostendorf, a religion/English teacher who was fired as the school year started at Totino-Grace High School after she acknowledged she’s gay.

And I was at once terrified and really glad and proud. I didn’t just say, “I’m gay, I’m in a relationship with a woman, and I’m happy,” and sit down. That really wasn’t the point of what I was saying.

It was, “This is my prayer for all of us: That we mean what we do.” Then I sat down and I thought, “I wonder what’s going to happen next?” I hadn’t considered [the repercussions], but I didn’t know I was going to say what I said.

There was silence in the room. I wasn’t surprised. Nobody stands up in a room of 120 people in a Catholic school and says, “I’m in a relationship with a woman,” when you’re a woman.

Afterwards I got emails from people who said, “I’m proud of you,” and “My only sadness is that I didn’t stand up and applaud or yell, ‘Amen.’ ”

Ostendorf is the second official at the Catholic school to resign or be fired after acknowledging being gay. School president William Hudson resigned in June.

Ostendorf told MinnPost:

There’s been criticism of Bill for having “kept a secret.” And I think, really? He was doing a job he was called to do. But let’s say he was keeping a secret, and I chose to not keep a secret.

We’re both gone. And the sad story is, I’d like to be the last person to be fired for who I loved, or for the gender of the person I love. But I won’t be, probably, and the silence around it terrifies me.

The school declined to comment on Ostendorf’s ouster. But when Hudson left, the school said, “leading a Catholic school while living in a committed same-sex relationship is not consistent with the teachings of the Catholic Church.”