By Bob Vitale

Bishop Watterson High School students are fighting for a longtime physical education teacher and coach they say was fired by the Catholic Diocese of Columbus because she’s gay.

Carla Hale is liked and respected by students and colleagues, but people close to her and the school say she was terminated after Bishop Watterson and church officials were told that she included her partner, Julie, in her mother’s newspaper obituary.

Students began an online petition yesterday that has been gaining about 100 supporters per hour. It was up to 2,800 by noon today.

The petition calls Hale a beloved teacher “who cared for her students and treated each one with respect.”

“The school, however, did not reciprocate that respect in its treatment of her,” reads the petition, started by Watterson senior Jackson Garrity. “Discrimination and injustice is something that we all have a duty to fight in today’s society. … The school claims its mission is to teach its students about love, acceptance, and tolerance, and yet it did none of this in the way it treated Ms. Hale. That is why we all have to stand up together and let it be known that this decision is unacceptable.”

Garrity said students learned of Hale’s firing this week, although they weren’t told directly by the school. The school didn’t tell faculty either, others said.

“She’s a great lady,” a former colleague said of Hale. “She’s totally dedicated to her students.”

Two people who know others who’ve spoken to Hale told Outlook the details of her termination. Hale’s mother, Jeanne E. Roe of Powell, passed away on Feb. 25, and her obituary appeared in The Columbus Dispatch the next day. Hale’s partner, Julie, was listed among Roe’s survivors. That is what prompted school officials to fire Hale, the source said.

“My classmates and I feel very passionately about this issue,” Garrity told Outlook by email. “We (the senior class) agreed that we needed to take a stand as leaders and voice our opinions.”

Other Watterson students, parents and alumni have voiced their anger at the school as well. Here’s a sampling of comments:

  • “Bishop Watterson demands that we all treat each other with equality and respect. I hope they see that their students are standing up for the morally right thing, not to just rebel against the school. Carla Hale is a child of God and equal in his eyes to all of us. Bishop Watterson needs to recognize that.”
  • “Ms. Hale was a fantastic PE teacher, she encouraged everyone to be a part of the games and activities we did in class. This made the class more fun for everyone. She was always fair towards me, even in my freshman year when I was rude and disrespectful in her class. … To see the treatment of a woman who has given so much time to the Watterson community as a teacher, coach, and much more is just sickening. Judging and discriminating against people on the basis of their sexuality is not what God wanted at all. … I want Ms. Hale reinstated to the school because regardless of her sexuality (which is no one’s business but her own), she is a great teacher, and a fantastic woman and role model.”
  • “When I was a student at Bishop Watterson, we were always taught to treat others with dignity and compassion. As an alumni, I still credit Bishop Watterson with shaping me into the person I am today — both morally and ethically. I am deeply saddened to learn that, in spite of what Watterson taught me about respect for all humanity, a longstanding and well-respected faculty member was treated so unfairly. Ms. Hale has always been an excellent coach and teacher. Her sexual orientation and lifestyle choices have no bearing on her capacity to educate her students and should NOT be grounds for termination of employment.”
  • “My kids go to Bishop Watterson. I want them to see a model of tolerance and love, not discrimination.”

  • “As a graduate of Watterson I am deeply disappointed that my former school seems to have lost sight of one of their core principles — to love and respect others. I truly hope Watterson realizes their mistake before teaching students that it is acceptable to judge another person for any reason, let alone for loving someone. Ms. Hale please know that we support you.”

Someone who signed the petition with the name of Hale’s daughter wrote: “Discrimination against someone for their sexuality is wrong. It is not our place to judge someone especially based on these terms. She is an amazing mother, friend, teacher, and all around person. That is how people should see her!”

Hale still is listed on Watterson’s website as head of the school’s health and physical education department.

Bishop Watterson Principal Marian Hutson didn’t respond to Outlook’s request for comment. Diocese spokesman George Jones said it’s church policy not to comment on personnel matters.

It’s the second time this year that Catholic schools in Ohio have fired educators for ties to the LGBT community. In February, Mike Moroski, an assistant principal at Purcell Marian High School in Cincinnati, was fired by the Cincinnati Archiocese after he stated his support for marriage equality on his personal blog.


Twitter: @Bob_Vitale



  1. It is sad when people who call themselves educators, need to learn lessons from students. So much for love Respect and acceptance. Not only did this teacher lose her Mom, but then “her Kids”. Students she cared about and helped grow into loving, accepting and respectful Young people.

    While the Catholics (not all Catholics, just those that hide behind the church) will move mountains to protect priest that pray on the young, they prosecute Teachers that are doing their job. Only to add salt to the wound by doing it right after she lost her mother.

    I will not let this anger me. I, unlike the power at be at this school, will support my Lesbian sister in anyway that I can, and pray for the souls of those who committed this unloving, disrespectful and unaccepting act!!!

  2. I am a gay man who attends Catholic Mass every Sunday and holyday. But even though I am fortunate to make a nice six figure salary, I don’t give the Church a dime. I wouldn’t want to put the church in the position of appearing to condone gay people by accepting my money.

  3. Personally, I support Gay Marraige and see nothing wrong with Homosexuality.

    However, The Church and Diocese is a Private and Religious Institution. They reserve this right because of the religious implications.

  4. They might reserve the right to make this judgment call, but they’re still hypocrites. What evidence do they have that this woman is violating church teaching? Do they know for a fact she’s having sex with her partner? Because the church says there’s nothing wrong with *being* gay, only “acting on it” (and they define “acting on it” as having sex).

    I say they’re hypocrites, because there are plenty of heterosexual Catholics who are violating church teaching too: anyone who masturbates or uses birth control is committing a sin that is equal in magnitude to “homsexual acts”–again, this is according to the church’s own teaching. (I think these teachings are ridiculous, but they are what they are.)

    It sure seems to me that the church is practicing the very kind of discrimination that they strongly claim they don’t do.

    But let’s face it: the church’s views on gay issues make no sense to begin with.

  5. Meredith Bennett-Smith, thank you for the story. However, females are LESBIANS. Males are gay. Think about it – why do we name our orgs Lgbt, if not to distinquish that Lesbians are NOT gay?
    Thanks again, a LESBIAN.

  6. This is not the Catholic teaching that received while I “class of 1974” was at Bishop Watterson.
    Shame on you Principal Marian Hutson and the Catholic Diocese of Columbus for your decision to fire Carla Hale for her personal oreintation of being lesbian.
    Your actions are not Gods teachings “we are all equal under God’s eyes”.
    I will request all of my friends & students (Assistant Wrestling Coach at Bishop Watterson for 9 years 1975-1984) to stand up for Carla Hale.
    I am contacting Marian Hutson to remove my name from all lists for fund rasing activities in the future, and I request all other Alimni to discontinue their financial suppot for Bishop Watterson until justice for Carla Hale is accomplished by reinstating her back to her position at Watterson.
    Rick Winel 1974

  7. I was raised Catholic and went to Catholic schools my entire life including Ohio Dominican University. Being gay has never been an issue for me in any position I have ever had in both retail and banking so I was shocked to read about Ms. Hale to say the least.
    At Ohio Dominican in the late 70s and early eighties I was approached my several priests and a deacon regarding my sexuality and if I was interested in a hush hush relationship. I would say this behavior continued from them until I hit 43. I was asked to dinner only to be attacked in my car by a priest that I thought I could be friends with… but it turned out he was not into a friendship.
    My mother actually recently passed away and my family said that I should put Craig, my longtime partner next to my name in the obituary because he vivted my mother and was with us when she passed. She loved him and even though we never said we were together, my mother of course knew. It was so nice my family advised me not to forget Craig… This really made me feel empathy for Ms. Hale, also.
    To hear that she was fired for this same thing was beyond my imagination. I called the Diocese and left messages and wrote seberal articles on FB but the real turn around when our courageous Mayor Coleman took the right stance against bigotry.
    The diocese and Bishop Watterson HS should really be ashamed. I am at an age where several DeSales Alumni have children that go to Watterson due to geographic location. They are very upset as well as the children. Was this really what Jesus would have taught us to be like? s Hale was loved by her students and had 19 years of experience working with kids and never had issues as far as the families I spoke to knew about.
    What has happened is this is another instance where people are torn with the Church and their two faced leaders and a school thrown into huge backlash that always had a pristine reputation. It is embarrassing to Columbus, Catholic Schools, and just plain mean and totally uncalled for. I am a Catholic without a church…

  8. It’s very ironic that a church that has been mired for a decade in criticism for allowing the mostly homosexual abuse of children to go unchecked is now attacked for keeping a homosexual away from children.