ST. LOUIS The termination of two gay faculty members at a Missouri all-girls Catholic high school has prompted an outcry from alumnae.
In the last several weeks, alumnae have created a private Facebook group with more than 2,000 members in support of Olivia Reichert and Christina Gambaro urging supporters to call and write to leaders at Cor Jesu Academy in Affton and voice their concerns.
Cor Jesu is in the midst of its "One-Heart-One-Spirit-One Vision" capital campaign for a new chapel, gym, student commons, additional parking and to grow its endowment fund.
Reichert said she and her partner were asked to resign after the school said in late July it received a copy of a mortgage application with the couple's names. The school said the couple had violated the moral contract faculty are required to sign as part of employment. The couple had married in New York over the summer.
"We understand that, as a Catholic institution, Cor Jesu has an obligation to ensure that its employees serve as Christian role models. However, because they do not enforce the witness statement in any other way, this is a blatant case of discrimination," Reichert wrote in a statement to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
In response to questions, a statement from Cor Jesu said the school "does not publicly discuss personnel matters."
Many are concerned not only about Gambaro and Reichert, but how the decision to fire gay faculty will affect current and future Cor Jesu students.
In response, the Chargers Allies, another Facebook group with more than 200 members and growing, was created as "a safe space where both members of the LGBTQ community and those who support them can connect and hopefully find a way to create change at Cor Jesu Academy."
Chargers Allies member Coco Fernandez, 22, an alumna of the school who now lives in Chicago, said she wants all who work and attend Cor Jesu to "feel welcomed and accepted as who they are, regardless of sexual orientation."
Fernandez also said Reichert had been one of her favorite teachers at the school.
"She was a great role model for the girls. She was always kind," Fernandez said.
"We are being taught to be open and accepting of everybody and yet teachers are being fired because of their sexual orientation," Fernandez said when speaking about her education at Cor Jesu.
Anne Garcia, 38, an IT tech living in Kirkwood, who graduated from Cor Jesu in 1994, said she was "sad and disappointed in the school."
Garcia said many of the students she's kept in touch with over the years feel the same way. "It's a big deal to a lot of people," she said.
Although the majority of students at the school are Roman Catholic, Garcia said she left the faith because of the church's teaching on homosexuality and what she described as its "basic intolerance."
Garcia said while she did not expect her alma mater to condone homosexuality, she hoped the administration would be loving and caring.
"There is a middle ground," Garcia said, noting that she considered the firing of gay faculty at the school unnecessary.
In a Facebook post, Gambaro wrote that although alumnae support for her and her wife had been overwhelming, "the law is not on our side, nor is the church, so we have no ground to stand on."