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A respected English and creative writing teacher in Pennsylvania was fired on Friday from her job at the Catholic high school where she’s been employed for four years. Her transgression? Becoming pregnant while unmarried.
Naiad Reich was ready to start a family, and she planned the pregnancy to coincide with a June birth so she wouldn’t have to take maternity leave from her post at Our Lady of Lourdes Regional School in Coal Township, Pa., according to the Daily Item. When she announced her happy news — and the clever timing — to Sister Mary Anne Bednar, though, the principal and administrator was less than impressed.
“Her response, honestly, is one that will sit with me for a very long time, because she was very displeased,” Reich told PennLive. “She said it would be a problem and she had to contact the diocese.”
By Friday, the Roman Catholic Harrisburg Diocese officials had reached a decision: Reich’s out-of-wedlock pregnancy was a violation of a morality clause in her contract. If Reich and her partner, Matt Graboski, had no plans to get married in the near future, according to ABC affiliate WNEP, she’d have to be let go.
Diocese spokesperson Rachel A. Bryson declined to address Reich’s situation specifically but confirmed the overall stance in a statement shared with Yahoo Lifestyle. It read: “The Diocese of Harrisburg is unable to comment on personnel matters. However, as outlined in our policies, every professional employee agrees to follow the teachings, doctrine, and laws of the Catholic Church as part of the hiring process.”
The diocese’s personnel code states that every employee is “expected to conduct himself or herself at all times in accordance with Catholic morality and the rules and regulations of the school and the Diocese of Harrisburg and to avoid any embarrassment or scandal to the individual school or the Diocese.”
Reich, who is not Catholic, said that even though she does not agree with the diocese’s beliefs and moral code, she understands them. She has a moral code of her own too: honesty. “I could have sat in that meeting and said, ‘Sure, I’ll get married,’” Reich told the Daily Item. “I could have saved my job. But I was honest with them. I wasn’t going to lie.” She also told Fox 8 that she and Graboski want to get married on their own terms.
Reich can appeal the decision, but she said she’s not sure whether she wants to continue rocking the boat. “This has been a lot,” she told the Daily Item. “I feel horrible for the kids and the parents who have lost their teacher midway through the year. Not being able to see them is tough; they are the ones that are hurting.” For now, she and Graboski are focused on being “extremely excited” for the “rewarding” birth of their first baby.
An online petition has since been created in Reich’s honor to try to reinstate the teacher. An anonymous petitioner writes, “An amazing teacher has been let go due to her being pregnant and unmarried. Please, all I ask is for you to stand by this strong woman as we petition that the school’s actions were entirely wrong and for her to return to her job.”
Those who launched it are seeking 1,000 signatures.