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Catholic School Teachers At Diocese Of Oakland Required To Sign Morality Pledge Covering Personal Life

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OAKLAND (CBS SF) – Teachers at Catholic schools in the East Bay are being asked to sign a morality pledge covering their lives beyond the school walls.

A spokesman for the Diocese of Oakland told the San Francisco Chronicle teachers are being required to sign a new contract by Friday that says they conform to church teachings outside the workplace.

Teachers said they are concerned about possibly losing their jobs over the use of contraception, having premarital sex, or being gay.

Students at Bishop O’Dowd High School on Friday voiced concern over the pledge.

“I don’t think that it’s fair,” said Mimi Trevor, a sophomore at Bishop O’Dowd.

“They should have the right to privacy and they should have their own personal lives without having their jobs depend on it,” said Aaron Hicks, also a sophomore at the school.

Students have started a petition on Change.org, hoping the diocese will back off.

“It goes against our school motto right now.  Our motto this year is anti-bullying and obviously, we’re all about equality here,” said Matrix Shimizu, a Bishop O’Dowd junior.

Parents and LGBT leaders upset over the pledge have joined with Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, who is Catholic and has a gay daughter. They called the contract a “morality clause,” forcing teachers to sign their lives away.

“Calling on Bishop Michael Barber to stop. It’s intolerant, it’s hateful,” Skinner said.

“If this goes through and teachers are fired, we will be looking for another school for our daughter,” said Denise Pinkston, a parent at Bishop O’Dowd.

Diocese of Oakland spokesperson Mike Brown told KPIX 5 that the new bishop, who took over last year, is simply updating the contract to be clearer with the language. He said they are not trying to fire people over what they do at home.

“The diocese has no interest in the person’s personal life, personal behavior,” Brown said.

Previous contracts between the diocese and teachers did not include clauses governing teachers’ personal lives.

According to the diocese, about 18 percent of the teachers in their schools are not Catholic.

Teachers at Bishop O’Dowd planned to meet over the contract on Friday.

Because the schools are religious, state and federal employment law offers little protection for workers who violate church teaching.

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