Mount de Sales board members resign over band director firing

pramati@macon.comMay 29, 2014 

Flint_Dollar

Flint Dollar was recently fired from Mount de Sales Academy because of his plans to marry his partner.

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Three members of the Mount de Sales Academy board of trustees resigned last week in the wake of the school’s firing of a gay teacher who is intending to marry his partner.

The Catholic school fired band director Flint Dollar last week on the grounds that his intention to marry his partner constituted a violation of the church doctrine of marriage. Mount de Sales is run by the Catholic Sisters of Mercy.

Board members Kay Gerhardt, Vickie Hertwig and Joe Claxton, who were listed on the school’s website last week, are no longer listed. School President David Held confirmed on Thursday the resignation of three board members over the controversy, but he declined to say which ones.

Attempts to reach former and current board members for comment were unsuccessful.

Meanwhile, Dollar, who had worked for the school since 2010, said he has spoken with an attorney and is exploring various options of legal recourse.

Dollar said he told the school before he was hired that he is gay. He also said he informed the school’s administration in October of his intention to marry his partner.

“I’m looking at my options (with a lawsuit),” Dollar said. “There are several options I’m looking at, but I’m not going to jump into anything too quickly.”

Dollar said he signed a new one-year contract with Mount de Sales earlier this month, which the school initially accepted. However, he was later fired.

Dollar has received a groundswell of support both locally and internationally. More than 60 parents and students marched in front of the school campus last Friday to protest his firing.

Since he was fired, Dollar said he’s received several inquiries from schools seeking to hire him.

Held said he can’t currently comment on the situation, other than to say that it has been an emotional issue for everyone involved. He said he’s heard from parents and students who have supported Dollar as well as those who support the school.

“It’s a difficult issue,” Held said. “I’ve received lots of input. It’s been a really emotional response from both sides.”

A Facebook page called “Save Flint Dollar” had more than 2,400 likes as of Thursday afternoon, while a www.change.org petition in support of the teacher has more than 2,700 signatures from places as far away as Australia and New Zealand.

In addition, the Human Rights Campaign, a Washington, D.C.-based gay rights organization, has petitioned the Vatican on behalf of Dollar and eight other gay teachers fired by Catholic schools. It asks for an audience with Pope Francis to discuss the issue of homosexuality and the Catholic Church.

“Our families are hurting. We feel scorned by our church, which we have dedicated our lives to,” the letter reads in part. “From coaching sports teams, to leading canned food drives, to going to Church every single Sunday -- we feel abandoned by the Catholic Church. We know God has not abandoned us. Our friends, loved ones, and many others in our community have not abandoned us. But we feel the hierarchy of our Church is denying us the pastoral care and love they are called to do.”

Also this week, a nonprofit Catholic organization called Catholics United also released a statement calling for Mount de Sales to reverse its decision.

Meanwhile, Dollar said he and his partner are preparing for their wedding, scheduled for July 12 in Minneapolis. Dollar said he and his partner have no connection to Minnesota, but they randomly picked it from among states that have legalized gay marriage.

Dollar also asked his supporters who were raising money to buy him a wedding gift to instead donate the money to the Mount de Sales band for new uniforms.

To contact writer Phillip Ramati, call 744-4334.

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