Parents Of Students Cause An Uproar When Their Teacher Is Fired For Marrying Her Same-Sex Partner
In 2015 when Florida lifted its ban on same-sex marriage there certainly was their fair share of outcry from conservatives but after a couple years went by a lot of the outrage subsided and most people resumed normal life. Even better, of course, same-sex couples began to get married. Such was the case for Jocelyn Morffi, a first-grade teacher at Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic School. But her happily ever after came with a devastating and appalling consequence, according to a post on her Instagram account.
Mere days after tying the knot in a beautiful ceremony with her partner in the Florida Keys, Morffi shared her devastation on Instagram:
This weekend I married the love of my life and unfortunately I was terminated from my job as a result. In their eyes I’m not the right kind of Catholic for my choice in partner.
Upon returning to the school on Thursday she was fired.
Parents of students found out later that same evening when a letter was sent home from the school. The letter, however, did not list a clear reason as to why Morffi was fired, only that it was a "difficult and necessary decision" and that "education is of the utmost concern for us."
However, after hearing about the teacher being fired a group of roughly 20 parents were not prepared to stand for it. Angry, they gathered at the school and demanded answers from the principal.
One parent, Cintia Cini, spoke with the Miami Herald stating, 'we were extremely livid. They treated her like a criminal, they didn’t even let her get her things out of her classroom!"
Cini also was clear that she had no clue the teacher was gay, but just as clear? She didn't care.
“Our only concern was the way she was with our children, the way she taught our children and this woman by far was one of the best teachers out there,” she said.
Parents also said that the principal would only speak with them one at a time and at no point did she give a single one of them a clear, explicit reason the teacher was fired.
So far, the school has refused to comment but Archdiocese of Miami spokeswoman Mary Ross Agosta did confirm that Morffi was indeed fired, breaking her contract. But much like the parents and the principal, Agosta would not confirm why.
“As a teacher in a Catholic school their responsibility is partly for the spiritual growth of the children,” Agosta said. “One has to understand that in any corporation, institution or organization there are policies and procedures and teachings and traditions that are adhered to. If something along the way does not continue to stay within that contract, then we have no other choice.”
Reflecting back to the monumental decision in 2015 where Florida lifted the same-sex marriage ban, we wonder if it is relevant to know that Archbishop Thomas Wenski sent a memo out to the teachers at that time. In the memo he reminded them that they are church representatives and should abide by Catholic teaching. Additionally, any conduct that was deemed as 'inconsistent' of that, would result in disciplinary action, including termination.
"I think it’s shocking that in this day and age this continues to happen in South Florida,” said Tony Lima, executive director of the South Florida LGBT rights group SAVE. “It’s important to continue educating the community that this kind of stuff happens in this day and age. But it’s even more important to pass comprehensive statewide protections.”
One parent, Samantha Mills, had a child with Morffi last year said, "we were completely outraged, all of the parents! his teacher, in particular, has made such a contribution to the school. She never imposes her personal beliefs on others. She just does everything in love. She has a way of teaching that is so amazing.”
Vanessa Almeida, whose children were tutorted by Morffi, spoke with New York Times and said, "the kids are very confused. My son said, 'Mommy, I heard that Ms. Morffi got fired for getting married,' and he looked at me and said,'What's so bad about that?'"
Morffi, however, has explained quite a bit despite the hush-hush from the school. She said that she was brought in for a meeting with school officials and was warned that if she wanted to continue working for the school that they couldn't post any pictures or attend any events that could even be considered supportive of same-sex marriage!
Additionally, Morffi said that the human resources representative she met with didn't even outright say, "you'll be fired if you do," but Morffi says that she was led to believe that none the less.
And make no mistake, Morffi really was an incredible teacher. Described as a "faithful" Catholic, Morffi encouraged students, through a nonprofit she created called "Teach Hope" to distribute food throughout the impoverished neighborhoods of Miami, Florida. She also volunteered as the basketball coach and reportedly played "feel good music" in her classroom as students piled in for each day.
One parent, Richard Oviedo said, "it's just incredible, in this day in age, in 2018, you can lose your job over who you choose to love."