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

Ostendorf says Totino-Grace basically has a "don't ask/don't tell" policy for staffers.
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.

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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 [email protected]

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