It has recently come to our attention that beloved teacher and band director, Mr. Flint Dollar, was fired from Mount de Sales Academy after disclosing his plans to marry his longtime partner in a civil union ceremony in Minnesota this summer. Though we are not aware of the specifics of his termination, it appears as if Mr. Dollar’s ousting was a direct result of his pursuit of legal recognition for his same-sex partnership in a state that legally allows such ceremonies to occur.
If this is true, we, the students, alumni, parents, faculty, and concerned community members respectfully request more transparency in the decision regarding Mr. Dollar’s termination. Given the Catholic Church’s strict stance against homosexuality, we understand that Mr. Dollar’s choice to wed his partner goes against the Church teachings on which Mount de Sales bases its principles and curriculum. We also are aware that Mount de Sales is an at-will employer, and has the right to terminate employees for any reason; however, the Nondiscriminatory Policy in Section 3.1 of the Employee Handbook clearly reads that our school is dedicated to “prohibiting discrimination based on race, color, creed, sex, sexual orientation, age, national origin or ancestry, physical or mental disability, veteran status, marital status, HIV-positive status, as well as any other category protected by federal, state or local laws.”
Indeed, Mr. Dollar’s termination is not without precedent; similar cases have occurred in Catholic schools in Washington, Arkansas, California, Missouri, Illinois, New York, and North Carolina. However, Mount de Sales has never been a school that follows precedents. We set the precedents. We herald the racial and religious diversity of our students in an otherwise monotonous sea of private school populations, bring in nationally-renowned leaders to educate our students about issues that occur outside of our protective MDS bubble, raise money and awareness for international causes, and pride ourselves on being the recipient of multiple No Place For Hate awards from the Anti-Defamation League, an organization dedicated to civil rights advocacy and anti-bullying initiatives. We have long led the community in acceptance, inclusiveness, and progressiveness. Now, it is time to embrace these values as they apply to members of our own MDS family.
According to our mission statement: “To meet the challenges of the 21st century, Mount de Sales Academy provides an environment devoted to academic excellence, service to the community, global awareness and life-long learning” (Faculty handbook, Section 2.2). If we are to fulfill this mission, it is imperative that we understand the changing ideologies of the 21st century and adjust our policies in accordance with both these changes and the Catholic Church’s guidelines in mind. Though many may find the attitudes of society at large and the teachings of the Catholic Church to be mutually exclusive, a reconciliation may be as simple as following the obvious advice of Pope Francis himself: “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?”
So, we ask you, the administration of Mount de Sales Academy, who are you to judge? If Mr. Dollar is a dedicated servant of the Lord, a passionate teacher and band director, and the embodiment of the Christian principles of humility, kindness, and love, he should be able to continue his selfless service to the students of Mount de Sales. Moreover, his marital status and sexual orientation will set an example for how students should treat others around them, regardless of whom they love. The real world, a place which Mount de Sales claims to be preparing its students for, is a place full of not only racial and religious diversity, but sexual and gender diversity as well. Instead of following the examples of other Catholic schools that have chosen to place doctrine over justice, Mount de Sales should be the leader it always has been and encourage its students to accept all those who were made in the image of Christ.
“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.” John 4:7. Key word: Everyone.