Parents of students at a Catholic elementary school in Pennsylvania say they're outraged by the school's apparent decision to fire its religious education director because she's married to a woman. In an email last week, the principal of Waldron Mercy Academy in Merion said Margie Winters had been fired for confidential reasons, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer. "In the Mercy spirit, many of us accept life choices that contradict current Church teachings," Nell Stetser wrote, "but to continue as a Catholic school, Waldron Mercy must comply with those teachings." Winters says she can read between the lines: school officials have an issue with her 7-year same-sex marriage. Winters, who told the principal about her relationship when she was hired, says she has "kept a really low profile" on the recommendation she keep the relationship from parents.
Still, at least two sets of parents found out and complained to the school and Archdiocese of Philadelphia. Winters suggests the school may have feared the archdiocese would take away its ability to identify as Catholic, though a rep for the archdiocese says there was never any discussion of revoking that ability. Winters "makes kids love religion" and is a "perfect example of living a religious life," says one supportive parent. WPVI reports more than 100 people gathered with Winters on Wednesday in a show of support. A law protects employees in Lower Merion Township from discrimination based on sexual orientation, but religious institutions are exempt unless "supported in whole or in part by government appropriations." Waldron Mercy’s website says it received $270,000 from the state over two years, per the Inquirer. (A pregnant, unwed teacher was fired in a similar case.)