OAKLAND (CBS SF) – Teachers at Catholic schools in the East Bay were recently asked to sign a morality pledge covering their lives beyond the school walls as part of their next contract. As a result, it now looks like at least one member of the staff at Bishop O’Dowd High School won’t be returning next year.
The East Bay Express reports that Kathleen Purcell, director of the career partnerships program at Oakland’s Bishop O’Dowd High School has elected not to return to the school rather than sign the pledge, which requires employees to conform to Catholic teachings outside of the workplace.
“I found the language to be way out of line and totally unacceptable,” 6-year employee Purcell told the paper. “I look at this contract, and it very much looks to me like an attempt to universally remove all employees from the protection of civil rights and labor laws.”
Students even started a petition on Change.org, hoping the diocese will back off.
“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.
Diocese of Oakland spokesperson Mike Brown told KPIX 5 last week 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.