Teacher fired from Catholic school after 18 years because she is gay

FRIDLEY, Minn. — Another employee of a suburban Minneapolis Catholic high school was fired after it was disclosed that the individual is gay and in a same-sex relationship.

Kristen Ostendorf, an English and religion teacher, was terminated by the Totino-Grace Catholic High School after she came out last month during a workshop with 120 of her colleagues.

KARE-TVKristen Ostendorf
KARE-TVKristen Ostendorf

“I tried to figure out how I could encourage others to ‘make their mark’ if I was willing to be part of a community where I was required to hide and compromise and deny who I am,” Ostendorf told KARE-TV.

“How could I ask others to give themselves entirely to the work God calls them to when I couldn’t do this myself?” she said.

Ostendorf, who has taught at Totino-Grace for 18 years, said that the day after the workshop, Totino-Grace interim president Julie Michels called her to a meeting with the school’s administration and instructed her to not attend the next set of workshops.

“They asked what I thought their options were and I said, ‘I don’t know, I’m not a lawyer,'” she told the Minnesota Post.

“I told them I would not be resigning and they gave me what my lawyer says amounts to a letter of termination,” she recalled.

Ostendorf said her coming out announcement wasn’t planned.

“It was a very surreal moment when I heard myself saying the things I tried not to say. And I was at once terrified and really glad and proud. I didn’t just say, ‘I’m gay, I’m in a relationship with a woman, and I’m happy,’ and sit down. That really wasn’t the point of what I was saying. It was, ‘This is my prayer for all of us: That we mean what we do.’”

In a statement released Wednesday, the school administration said that it was “thankful” for Ostendorf’s service, but called the termination “a private matter between an employer and employee.”

Watch a report from KARE-TV:

In July, Totino-Grace president William Hudson said he too was forced to resign after he revealed that he was in a committed same-sex relationship.

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