Christian School Suspends Gay Student, Fires Mother

A Christian school in Harrisburg, PA suspended a boy for the “sin” of being gay. His mother was a teacher at the school. She was fired for standing up for her son.

The mother/teacher, Sharon Wright, is suing the Covenant Christian Academy in Federal Court, claiming that,

the school suspended her son for the “sin” of being gay, then subjected her to “scathing condemnation and blame” for supporting him rather than demanding that he “renounce his sin” – a situation so fraught that it led to her firing.

According to Wright, she has taught at the school for ten years. She taught fifth grade and had two sons enrolled at the school. The eldest of the two sons announced his sexual orientation in a blog post in 2009. He was a senior in the school.

When the school saw the blog posts, they suspended the boy. The two parents were called to a meeting with the school’s principal, Gloria Sanelli, who then informed them that he would not be allowed back into the school until he, “renounced his sin.”

A school board member, Rich Raynor, added, “your son is broken, and it’s your job to fix him.”

Raynor’s wife said, “that this was a ‘battle for [your son’s] soul’ and opined that he ‘may have been abused as a child.'”

From Courthouse News:

Wright says she and her husband advised the school and its leaders that “after consultation with various psychiatric, psychological and pediatric professionals they had come to the conclusion that their son’s sexual orientation was already determined, that it would be potentially harmful to try to ‘reprogram’ him, that they had decided their best course of action was to support him and love him for who he is, and that they could not agree that homosexuality is a sin.”

She says she and her husband “expressed that they disagreed with CCA’s doctrinal position on homosexual behavior, criticized said position, and would not force their son to renounce his sexual orientation as a sin.”

Even after Wright’s son came out, the school allegedly sent a letter in support of Wright and her employment, but she claims that she was continually harassed by the school administrators and board.

Wright claims that the constant criticism and blame gave her adjustment disorder, anxiety and depression. She requested medical leave of absence to treat her disability in January 2010, and says she was encouraged to take a “year to heal,” which she calls an attempt to “impose upon plaintiff an involuntary sabbatical for the 2010-2011 academic year.”

Wright says she informed the school in a letter of May 10, 2010, that she was capable of continuing to teach with the option of taking necessary intermittent medical leaves of absence. But when she requested reasonable accommodation, including intermittent medical leaves of absence, Wright says, she was denied a contract for the next school year.

Wright seeks an injunction, back pay, benefits, reinstatement or front pay, and punitive damages for disability discrimination, failure to accommodate, ADA violations, and violations of the Pennsylvania Human Rights Act and Human Relations Act.

Wright’s son is not the first to be suspended for being gay. In March, a school in Virgina, kicked a boy out for wearing high heels. The boy contends that it was because he was gay.

Also in March, a popular high school principal was fired for allegedly being gay, despite keeping her personal life to herself.

The federal government offers no protection to gay people. In 34 states, it’s still legal to be fired for being gay, but this may be the first case of someone being fired for having an LGBT child. If you have heard of similar cases, please comment or post to my Twitter feed or Facebook page.

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