Former Roncalli Students Say Shelly Fitzgerald Situation Sheds Light on Roncalli Culture
INDIANAPOLIS -- Former Roncalli High School students say the situation over a guidance counselor saying she was asked to resign over her same-sex marriage sheds light on a culture of intolerance at the school that has been going on for years.
In 2012, two students took their own lives. That's when classmates say they formed an after-school group called "Rebels 4 Acceptance." Some of them were dealing with bullying, some with mental health issues and others had trouble that involved their LGBT status.
"It definitely would not have been safe for one of my classmates to come out, not entirely anyway," said Andria McHugh, class of 2013. "They may have been fearful if they did. Just of judgment."
The group's founding members say it was meant to be a safe place for all students to find acceptance. The group met every few weeks to talk about what they were going through and how they could make school more inclusive for everybody.
But after less than a year, the group says their club was shut down by school administrators.
"They had seen it as encouraging homosexual behavior,' said Kendall Wood, class of 2014.
Counselor Shelly Fitzgerald has been placed on administrative leave after she says someone sought out her marriage certificate that showed she was married to another woman and gave it to the school.
In a statement on its Facebook page released Sunday night, Roncalli has said the expectations and teachings of the Catholic Church are clearly defined in employee contracts and job descriptions. Roncalli has since deactivated its Facebook and Instagram pages.
Fitzgerald says she has been overwhelmed by the support she's seeing from the community and her students.
"I mean, it's a great message for my daughter more importantly than anything," said Fitzgerald. "It's a great message for our students and our community at Roncalli because it's what we've taught them all along. Be kind to each other, take care of each other, be welcoming to each other and do it with Jesus in your heart."
A Roncalli school board member also resigned Tuesday over the decision.