More than 20,000 people from across the U.S. are rallying behind a Montana middle school teacher who was fired for getting pregnant out of wedlock.
"Shaela Evenson says Butte Central Catholic School fired her last month. Yesterday Catholics delivered petitions with more than 20,000 signatures to the Helena Diocese." (Via KBZK)
Social justice group Faithful America started the petition to get Evenson her job back, saying, "Firing an unmarried teacher for becoming pregnant is cruel and hypocritical." The group has already surpassed its goal of 15,000 signatures.
The petition was sent to Bishop George Leo Thomas, of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Helena, on Feb 27. But a parishioner told USA Today she doesn't think it will cause the diocese to change its decision.
"The only way that change could be made is if (Pope) Francis himself came and asked for that change to be made, and I doubt that would happen."
The school's superintendent told The Montana Standard that the Catholic Diocese of Helena was in the right to fire Evenson, saying:
"[Evenson] 'made a willful decision to violate the terms of her contract,' which requires her to follow Catholic teachings in both her personal and professional life..."
According to New York Daily News, teachers at Butte Central have morality clauses in their contracts. Behavior that goes against church teachings like having same-sex relationships, getting an abortion or becoming pregnant outside of marriage is not allowed.
But if Evenson were to ever take her firing to court, she might have a leg to stand on. A Montana law protects people from discrimination on the basis of marital status. (Via Montana Department of Labor & Industry)
A similar case occurred back in 2010. The Huffington Post says unwed Catholic school teacher Christa Dias used artificial insemination to get pregnant.
"She was fired by the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, but took it to court. And a jury found that she'd been discriminated against. Dias ended up with $170,000 when the case was finished." (Via KECI)
KECI reports Evenson, who is eight months pregnant, has hired the same law firm that represented Dias. Evenson's attorney says her client will file a discrimination charge against her employer.