Minnesota school fires two openly gay employees in a single year

A veteran educator was dismissed after telling her colleagues, "I'm in a relationship with a woman, and I'm happy"

Topics: LGBT Rights, Gay Rights, lgbtq rights, Catholicism, ,

A Catholic school in Minnesota recently fired a teacher — who had been with the school for 18 years — after she came out during a faculty meeting. Veteran educator Kristen Ostendorf was dismissed in August after she announced to her colleagues at Totino-Grace High School, “I’m gay. I’m in a relationship with a woman, and I’m happy.”

Ostendorf was the second educator at the school to be fired this year for coming out. Months earlier, school president Bill Hudson was forced to resign after he revealed he’d been in a relationship with his male partner for close to 20 years.

But as Ostendorf told the MinnPost, she wouldn’t have wanted to remain at the school if keeping her job also meant keeping silent:

You Might Also Like

OSTENDORF: Growing up, I never knew anyone who was gay. I was at Totino-Grace for 18 years. I don’t think it would be easy for anyone to paint me as a criminal. So I think that maybe, just maybe, kids, adults, and whoever can say, “OK, there’s a real human being who really means to be herself and live her life and does it with integrity. She’s gay.” That’s a big deal. Instead of, “That person’s a criminal.”

I’m not a big fan of silence. I’m not a fan of leaving the unnamed elephant in the room. I think silence is a huge problem. 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.

Though, she adds, she will miss doing the work she loves at a school she believed in — and where she spent so much of her life:

To not be able to do that work anymore in a community I love … There’s a reason I was at Totino-Grace for 18 years. I love it. There’s a reason I chose to put aside my integrity to do the work I love. I believe in Totino-Grace. I believe in Catholic education. I believe in good teaching, I believe in community, and I haven’t really felt that anywhere else so strongly like I have at Totino-Grace. And because that’s true, it makes me more sad.

You can read the full interview with Ostendorf here.

Katie McDonough is Salon's politics writer, focusing on gender, sexuality and reproductive justice. Follow her on Twitter @kmcdonovgh or email her at kmcdonough@salon.com.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 10
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    Michael Ohl/Museum fur Naturkunde

    Soul-sucking 'dementor' wasps and 8 other crazy new species

    Soul-Sucking Dementor Wasp

    Latin name: Ampulex dementor

    Truong Ngyuen

    Soul-sucking 'dementor' wasps and 8 other crazy new species

    10,000th reptile species

    Latin name: Cyrtodactylus vilaphongi

    Jodi Rowley/Australian Museum

    Soul-sucking 'dementor' wasps and 8 other crazy new species

    Colour-changing thorny frogs

    Latin name: Gracixalus lumarius

    Judith L. Eger

    Soul-sucking 'dementor' wasps and 8 other crazy new species

    Long-fanged bat

    Latin name: Hypsugo dolichodon

    Neang Thy Moe/FFI

    Soul-sucking 'dementor' wasps and 8 other crazy new species

    Stealthy wolf snake

    Latin name: Lycodon zoosvictoriae

    Michael Janes

    Soul-sucking 'dementor' wasps and 8 other crazy new species

    Feathered coral

    Latin name: Ovabunda andamanensis

    Jerome Constant

    Soul-sucking 'dementor' wasps and 8 other crazy new species

    World's second-longest insect

    Phryganistria heusii yentuensis

    Nantasak Pinkaew

    Soul-sucking 'dementor' wasps and 8 other crazy new species

    Slide 8

    Latin name: Sirindhornia spp

    Tim Johnson

    Soul-sucking 'dementor' wasps and 8 other crazy new species

    Slide 9

    Tylototriton shanorum

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

Loading Comments...