Roncalli co-director of guidance sues school, Archdiocese of Indianapolis

Lynn Starkey (photo courtesy DeLaney & DeLaney, LLC)
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INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) — Former Roncalli High School Co-Director of Guidance Lynn Starkey is suing Roncalli High School and the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.

The lawsuit claims the Archdiocese and Roncalli subjected her to a hostile work environment, discriminated against her because of her sexual orientation and retaliated against her because she complained about it.

In March, Starkey was informed her contract would not be renewed because "she's in a same-sex marriage, and she filed a discrimination complaint in November of 2018," a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

Starkey had been at Roncalli for 39 years, earning a 'Teacher of the Year' award in 2009.

"I dedicated my professional career to Roncalli. To be treated this way after thirty-nine years has been devastating to me," Starkey said. "I look forward to pursuing justice through my case."

Starkey is the second guidance counselor at Roncalli to lose her job because she's married to a woman, following Shelly Fitzgerald's placement on administrative leave in August 2018.

The Archdiocese of Indianapolis provided this statement Monday afternoon:

Catholic schools exist to communicate the Catholic faith to the next generation. To accomplish their mission, Catholic schools ask all teachers, administrators, and guidance counselors to uphold the Catholic faith by word and action, both inside and outside the classroom. If a school’s leaders reject core aspects of the Catholic faith, it undermines the school’s ability to accomplish its mission. Because of that, the Supreme Court has repeatedly recognized that religious schools have a constitutional right to hire leaders who support the schools’ religious mission.

As head guidance counselor, Ms. Starkey signed a contract acknowledging her role as a leader and committing to promote Catholic teaching, including the traditional Catholic teaching on marriage. She knowingly violated that contract by entering a same-sex civil union—making clear that she disagrees with the Church’s teaching on marriage and will not be able to uphold and model it for her students. Thus, her lawsuit is clearly barred by Supreme Court precedent.

Many families in our community have sacrificed so their children can attend schools where they will learn the Catholic faith. They rely on the Archdiocese to uphold the fullness of Catholic teaching throughout its schools, and the Constitution fully protects the Church’s efforts to do so.