A Supreme Court ruling unrelated to
LGBT rights will likely allow religious schools to discriminate
against LGBT teachers.
In a 7-2 decision handed down
Wednesday, the high court said that religious schools have an
expansive ministerial hiring exemption under federal civil rights
Writing for the majority, U.S.
Associate Justice Samuel Alito wrote that the First Amendment allows
religious institutions to make workplace decisions consistent with
their religious beliefs – even if such actions would be considered
discriminatory at a secular workplace under federal law.
“Judicial review of the way in which
religious schools discharge those responsibilities would undermine
the independence of religious institutions in a way that the First
Amendment does not tolerate,” Alito wrote.
Plaintiffs in the consolidated case
claimed age and disability discrimination.
The implications for LGBT teachers
working at such schools are staggering. Only last month, the Supreme
Court ruled that current federal civil rights law extends to LGBT
workers. Wednesday's decision essentially carves out an exemption for
The number of teachers fired because of
their sexual orientation or gender identity has sharply increased
since gay couples gained the legal right to marry. The Roman Catholic
Church views gay relationships as sinful and has taken a strong stand
against gay teachers who marry. In many instances, teachers in good
standing for decades have been fired after quietly marrying their
According to New
Ways Ministry, a group that advocates on behalf of LGBT
Catholics, roughly 90 church workers “have lost their jobs in
LGBT-related employment disputes” since 2007. While marriage
equality arrived nationwide in 2015, gay couples in Massachusetts
started marrying in 2004.