Totino-Grace High School fired teacher Kristen Ostendorf for coming out as lesbian

Categories: Education, GLBT
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Ostendorf says Totino-Grace basically has a "don't ask/don't tell" policy for staffers.
Kristen Ostendorf worked as an English and religion teacher at Totino-Grace High School for 18 years, but she was fired from her job late last month -- one day after coming out as a lesbian to her colleagues during a school workshop.

SEE ALSO: DeLeSalle student, during anti-gay school assembly, holds up sign: "I love my moms"

Ostendorf's termination from the Fridley Catholic school came just a couple months after William Hudson resigned as Totino-Grace president after he admitted to being involved in a gay relationship.

In an interview with MinnPost, Ostendorf, 43, said that at one point during that fateful school workshop, she stood amid her 120 colleagues and announced, "I'm gay, I'm in a relationship with a woman, and I'm happy."

She said she felt compelled to finally come out publicly because after Hudson's ouster, she found herself unwilling to remain "part of a community where I was required to hide and compromise and deny who I am."

Ostendorf said that the next day, she was called into a meeting with administrators and asked to resign. Though she wasn't given a specific reason, she said that "as far as I can surmise, the rule I broke was saying out loud that I am in a relationship with a woman."

When she refused to resign, she was fired. She's now looking for a new job.

Totino-Grace officials haven't commented on Ostendorf's firing, but after Hudson's resignation, board co-president Mark Motzel told MPR that "leading a Catholic school while living in a committed same-sex relationship is not consistent with the teachings of the Catholic Church."

-- Follow Aaron Rupar on Twitter at @atrupar. Got a tip? Drop him a line at arupar@citypages.com.

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147 comments
looloo
looloo

But priests who physically abuse young innocent children are OK to stay. Those lucky guys can get transfers to other schools and parishes. I guess she should have kept it a secret, if she still wanted to keep her job. The Catholic church seems really comfortable with keeping secrets. Kristen, you need to be in a school where people actually practice what they preach.

Love and compassion for others. Pretty simple stuff.

wendy1974
wendy1974

She worked there for a very long time, my husband went to TG and EVERYONE KNEW SHE WAS GAY.

It's the acknowledgment, that is why they fired her.


Nuevo Andrewismo
Nuevo Andrewismo

So the church hates all people equally. That's good! Progressive!

belaboi
belaboi

I think Jesus had words to say about discrimination. He never said much about who you let have crackers in your bed. T-G needs to learn this, The Church needs to know this. Now, with all love and respect Shawn, he had plenty of words for those who decry "contracts". We are all free to work for who we want to, but damn if I will let one discriminate on love.

belaboi
belaboi

As a 1982 graduate of Totino-Grace, it is my hope this firing backfires. Tolerance, love and compassion matter a whole hell lot more than than than an outdated church structure. We had gay brothers and sisters there back in the day. Seems like the Archdiocese is trying to flex it's muscles it is still might think it has. Love is the law. I will never send a dime to my high school.

Shawn Peterson
Shawn Peterson

Don't work for an organization if you don't agree with their stances on issues. If wasn't like she when she took the job she suddenly thought hmmm, I wonder where they stand on the whole openly gay practicing homosexual/gay marriage thing. She was the one that was being dishonest here, not the Church. You can have homosexual orientation and work for the Church, you can't be openly going against Church teaching. What don't people get about this.

Shawn Peterson
Shawn Peterson

The Catholic Church does NOT hate gays any more than it hates heterosexuals. Is does not however tolerate open willful sin, gay or straight.

Shawn Peterson
Shawn Peterson

Kristin what do you mean the Church no longer has a strong stance on the issue. It has been the teaching for 2000 years...that's pretty good case law. The Church does not teach that homosexual orientation is a sin, but acting on those desires is. Once she admitted to acting on those desires she was in violation of an employment agreement she freely signed.

yoopie93
yoopie93

Here come the trolls!  I like how they all feel the need to leave two messages instead of the normal one.  It almost makes you think that there's just one lonely, angry troll with multiple accounts who is trying to make it look like a lot of people share his same ignorant point of view.  Hmmm.

Chris Holtz
Chris Holtz

Congrats Totino Grace and hopefully you have enough money to pay for your lawsuit

Justin Hack
Justin Hack

I don't care if she has a case or not. It's not right no matter what anyone says. Plain and simple.

Jason Windsperger
Jason Windsperger

Good.... Keep your sexual orientation and discussion at home. We don't need that garbage in schools

Yankee Doodle Pablo
Yankee Doodle Pablo

A lesbian teacher working for a Catholic school is about as silly as the United Negro College fund paying a white student's tuiton.

Walter Hudson
Walter Hudson

By employment laws, you mean anti-freedom of association laws. Good thing we still have those.

Walter Hudson
Walter Hudson

Turns out, when your job is to provide religious instruction for a denomination which explicitly teaches that homosexuality is sin, you get fired when you come out as gay.

Erik Tinberg
Erik Tinberg

This happened in Anoka County. Let's have a show of hands, who would be surprised to find that a school in Anoka County would be intolerant? Bueller? ...Bueller?

Mike Ciresi
Mike Ciresi

Good for you! Believe in yourself and live your life!

Keith Morris
Keith Morris

Guess she should have molested children instead: they're OK with that even if it does come to light. Or does that only apply to men?

daniel.heikkila
daniel.heikkila

Thank science for the gay and lesbian procreation...glad you people can't have kids the REAL way...if it was right you could procreate and keep your species alive...I say no to IV fertilization...

himrloahr
himrloahr

TG class of 1996 here.  When I was a student at Totino Grace, my math teacher, Mr Glynn, who was mr wholesome happily married man, was banging another teacher, forget her name, she was an awful and forgettable teacher.  Maybe her name was Wozniak??  Anyways, Glynn was cheating on his wife with his coworker, everyone knew it.  He eventually left his wife and kids for the sh1t for brains ditz teacher/cheerleading coach.   

I do not recall them getting fired.  


Terry Mendez
Terry Mendez

more right wing conservative christian bullshit.....

Dan Mason
Dan Mason

Meanwhile the Catholic Church employes thousands of known child molesters. Religion is such a pathetic joke.

Rhonda McPeek Steinhagen
Rhonda McPeek Steinhagen

So pathetic! Well....she is clearly better off being out of such an oppressive environment! She will rise above and they are obviously not deserved of her!

Sarah Ward
Sarah Ward

Will they interview their students as well before admission to make sure they don't have any LGBT tendencies and if they do, not allow them in the school? Well that is unless they have all state athletic abilities...

Ryan Adams
Ryan Adams

Read the article. And better yet, read the interview. Your question is well addressed. :)

JaynieV
JaynieV

those who argue that TG has had other gay staff, people that use birth control, and out of marriage sexual relationships are likely correct.

What those people did not do is stand in the middle of a school work shop with 120 collegues and announce

I use condoms, I had sex before I was married...

If they had, I would hope that the TG administration would have asked them to resign, and suggested they need help.

People do not make announcements like that in a large room of colleagues, unless they want attention, plan a publicity stunt, or have other major issues.

As a parent of 3 TG alumni, I am proud of the Totino Grace stance.

I am certain most current parents would be horrified, if they had applauded her.

JaynieV
JaynieV

I am making a substantial donation to Totino Grace to show my support..

olso6311
olso6311

@Shawn Peterson Do you realize how stupid your second to last sentence sounds.  Basically, basically, you're saying being gay is fine, but telling anyone is wrong.  What the fuck kind of logic do you follow to believe this to be true.  

ajlalk3
ajlalk3 topcommenter

@Paul Gerold Oh good, I was worried someone wouldn't find a way to be both racist AND homophobic in the same comment. Good job Paul.

H8TER
H8TER

@Walter Hudson  who would of thunk it.  Not this lady!

ajlalk3
ajlalk3 topcommenter

@Scott Conrad Well, not only did you click the link to the article, but you also left a comment. So obviously, you do.

JaynieV
JaynieV

nobody is ok with that.

How can you fire somebody for something that does not come to light.


MicheleBachmann
MicheleBachmann topcommenter

@JaynieV  Since you belong to an organization that helped pedophiles molest children no one really cares what you think about ethics or morals.  The Catholic Church is currently hiding Cardinal Bernard Law in the Vatican to protect him from going to prison for covering up pedophiles.  The Catholic Church enslaved and murdered women in Ireland under Magdalene Laundries.   The Catholic Church has done many evil things yet they never change thanks to bigot sheep like you.  How much have you done to atone for your church's sins when it comes to pedophilia.  Jesus is watching you throw stones, he would be ashamed of your hate.  What have you done to bring Bernie Law to justice.  Why don't you and Totino Grace work on bringing a few Catholic pedophiles to justice until then I wouldn't be so proud of your hate.  

Equality
Equality

@JaynieV So, if she were to stand in  front of a classroom and announce that she was in a relationship with a man, would that have the same outcome? Would she be fired? It highly irritates me that you would say parents would be "horrified". You have NO idea what real life is in your close-minded shell.

H8TER
H8TER

@ajlalk3 so you think the NAACP would ever pay for a whites college?  LOL  they barely let black conservative have a say.

wendy1974
wendy1974

@MicheleBachmann @JaynieV Totally.  There is a priest that molested a TON of boys that my husband went to primary school with at St. John's in Roseville, all these boys then went on to Totino Grace.  The priest got word that people knew what he did, went to "rehab" in Arizona and his sins are all washed away now.  Piece of sh*t. A criminal case can no longer be brought, but a civil case may be.

JaynieV
JaynieV

and of course if someone stood up in a meeting and announce dhtey were a pedofile, they would be fired

JaynieV
JaynieV

if somebody stood up and announce they were doing something illegal or against the beliefs of the catholic church, then they should be fired.


As far as a woman announcing she was was in a relationship with a man, that is not against the church teaching so supported.


yoopie93
yoopie93

@JaynieV   Let me help you with something here, troll.  I won't bother pointing out that being a homosexual isn't in any way illegal (although you'd surely love for it to be), so your analogy here is completely useless.  And, of course, homophobic.

Instead, I just want to help you with the spelling of a word, because it's one that is ultimately going to show up on a lot of your police reports and court documents in the near future.  The word is spelled p-e-d-o-p-h-i-l-e (sometimes a "ph" sounds just like an "f"--weird, huh?).  I figured that if you know how to spell it correctly, then you'll have an easier time finding likeminded people in the chatrooms you surely frequent.  

H8TER
H8TER

@yoopie93 thats becouse im not a troll. I enjoy political talk.  

But to say the DNC would tolerate me on abortion is pretty silly. 

Pro-choice crowd are just as rabid as the anti-gay marriage crowd, and prolife crowd.

I like your points on how TG should tolerate gays. I never thought about it like that. Thats the reason I like to talk to people who disagree w me!!

But I still say freedom of religion. They don't have to tolerate, even though they should.

yoopie93
yoopie93

@H8TER   You see, the people at the DNC wouldn't do that, and that's where you're not getting it.  You assume that all people are exactly one thing or the other.  They aren't like that.  Not at all.  A person can be tolerant of others and still not accept what they believe in.  Please try to understand that.  If you get nothing else out of this exchange, please, please understand that people are not cookie cutters.  The people at Totino-Grace should tolerate this woman for being gay.  They don't have to accept it as one of their own values, but they need to tolerate it.  That is what religion is supposed to be about.  And politics, too.  But there are too many people whose ideologies are so stuck in assuming that we have to be this or that, and we get these situations.

So yes, you are being somewhat obtuse.  I'll give you credit for at least asking why.  Typical trolls don't generally go there.

H8TER
H8TER

@yoopie93 If you realy cared you would try to explain. instead you call me dumb and leave.

Im sure if I wanted to work for the DNC, just cuz I want to and then preceded to tell my coworkers that I think we should ban abortions ( I DON"T WANT TO BAN ABORTIONS) they would fire me instantly, because its against what they believe

do you see my point? or am i just obtuse?

yoopie93
yoopie93

@H8TER @yoopie93   The fact that you can't understand a basic concept.  My wonderment is all based on your stupidity.  I'm done trying to explain it to you.  So, all I have left to say is . . .

wow.

H8TER
H8TER

@yoopie93 what you mean wow?  you think the gov should dictate what religions believe?  please tell me what wow's you?

H8TER
H8TER

@yoopie93  hmmm.  she wants to work for some one that disapproves of her lifestyle.  seems like if she really wanted to work there she would have kept her mouth shut.   

I will agree that the republicans should be tolerant of gays, but religions don't have to be. 

nice try though.

yoopie93
yoopie93

@H8TER @yoopie93 @MicheleBachmann @JaynieV   BECAUSE SHE WANTS TO!!!  Being gay and being Catholic are not mutually exclusive.  There are lots of gay Catholics.  Many of them are priests!  It's the same reason there are gay Republicans.  Even though one part of their life is marginalized by their party's platform doesn't mean that they can't still be part of that organization if they feel it's important to them.  It really isn't that hard to figure out.

yoopie93
yoopie93

@H8TER @MicheleBachmann @JaynieV   You crafty son of a bitch--you've exposed this woman's plan!  You figured out that this whole thing was just part of a long con, something right out of "The Sting."  Yes, this woman decided many years ago to get a job, and then figured that after enough time, say 18 years, she would get herself fired.  And after that, she'd be sure to get the sweet prize:  having a story about her ordeal in a story on the City Pages website.  You're good, H8TER.  That's quite an intellect you have there.

Onan
Onan

@JaynieV  - It may be if said "relationship" is outside the confines of marriage.

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