Two months ago, Celene Seamen, Principal at Bishop Ready Catholic High School in Columbus, Ohio, presented Franklin County Commissioner, John O'Grady, with the honor of delivering the school's commencement speech.
More than thirty years ago, O'Grady also graduated from Ready High School. Because of this, he was honored to return and share words of wisdom with his alma mater's graduating seniors.
Just prior to the graduation ceremony, O'Grady was contacted by school officials to tell him he would no longer be needed for the commencement speech. The reason for their decision was solely based on O'Grady's position as co-chairman of the Freedom to Marry initiative supporting marriage equality in the state of Ohio. According to O'Grady, his views supporting marriage equality have been public long before he began his involvement with Freedom to Marry.
Principal Seamen told students something urgent came up, so O'Grady would no longer be speaking. Seamen ended up presenting her own speech to the students in place of O'Grady, whose name still appeared inside the graduation programs.
This isn't the first situation of this kind within this school system. Just three months prior, Carla Hale, a physical education teacher from Bishop Watterson Catholic High School in Clintonville, Ohio, was fired after her partner's name was published in a newspaper obituary. An anonymous source sent a letter to the diocese complaining about this discovery. Her teacher's union responded with no help towards assisting Hale in regaining her teaching position. Hale's students even started a petition in support of her position.
According to the petition, "The diocese claims its mission is to teach its students about love, acceptance, and tolerance, and yet it did none of this in the way it treated Ms. Hale." Students argued, "That is why we all have to stand up together and let it be known that this decision is unacceptable."
As the school system within the Catholic Diocese of Columbus, and other religious organizations continue to make discriminating decisions, affirming organizations are available within the Columbus area and country, working to fight against these situations such as Dignity of Greater Columbus and Dignity USA.