Teaching Credentials: Decision at Dowling Catholic to resist hiring gay teacher raises questions for what makes effective teaching

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For those who often follow state-wide or national news, the two became one this past week when Dowling Catholic’s hiring policy fell under national scrutiny. Popular teen news apps and sites such as Buzzfeed highlighted this happening in Iowa because it raised many questions. Should a religious school be able to deny a teacher employment based on his or her sexual orientation and publicity of the fact? Should a school judge a teacher on something that in no way affects his or her ability to teach?

Iowa’s Civil Rights laws prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation, but there is a clause that exempts religious affiliations, so Dowling Catholic is technically within its legal rights to deny a teacher employment if they are publically homosexual. Dowling Catholic defended its decision, sending a letter to parents saying that the applicant’s personal life went against church teaching. The applicant, Tyler McCubbin, was an immensely popular substitute teacher who was offered a full-time position at Dowling Catholic, only to have the opportunity taken away because he is engaged to another man.

Students banded behind the substitute teacher, including holding a walk-out that happened on Wednesday, April 8. More than 150 students, parents, alumni and area supporters participated in the walk out. Students emphasized that they wanted to show that though the administration may support discrimination based on sexual orientation, they do not. Parents and students passed around a petition calling for change. One parent brought up the fact that she does not want the quality of teachers at Dowling to diminish merely because the administration is discriminatory. Other speakers at the walk out came out as LGBTQ or spoke about their own struggles.

Whether Dowling caves to community pressure or holds strong to its church beliefs, this event has brought to light important issues and opened the LGBTQ conversation in relation to employment at Iowan religious organizations.

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