An Indianapolis guidance counselor told Ellen DeGeneres her future remains “in limbo” after officials at the Catholic high school where she works put her on paid administrative leave last month when they learned she’s in a same-sex marriage.
Shelly Fitzgerald dropped by “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” on Monday, where she discussed being told by administrators at Roncalli High School that her job of 15 years would be on the line if she chose not to “dissolve” her marriage.
Fitzgerald and her wife, Victoria, have been married for four years, but together for 22 and have a 12-year-old daughter. Though she said most of her school colleagues knew about her relationship, it had never surfaced as an issue until an unknown person sent a copy of her marriage certificate to administrators.
She told DeGeneres she decided to speak out only after officials released public statements about the status of her employment last month.
“They announced that I was on administrative, paid leave, and that I was banned from campus, which was obviously hurtful,” she said. At that point, she said, school officials released a statement explaining why she’d been placed on leave and “put it on all of their social media and sent out a press release,” thereby outing her publicly.
Though Roncalli administrators have mostly kept quiet about the case, they posted a lengthy note on Facebook last month cited by The Associated Press that read, “The personal conduct of every teacher, guidance counselor and administrator and staff member, both at school and away from school, must convey and be supportive of the teachings of the Catholic Church.”
Fitzgerald and the school have yet to reach any accord on what the next steps will be.
“I’m obviously not going to dissolve my marriage. I have no desire to resign from a job that I adore,” she said. “We want to work together and see what happens, and so it’s kind of just in limbo, still.”
During the interview, DeGeneres surprised Fitzgerald by inviting a group of the school’s students onto the show to express their support for her. Those students had launched an online fundraiser aimed at “saving our amazing LGBT+ teachers and bringing awareness to the equality of the LGBT+ community” and, they hope, getting Fitzgerald’s contract revised so she can stay employed at their school.
The host, however, saved the biggest (and best) surprise for last, presenting the students with a check for $25,000 toward their campaign.