Barbara Webb taught and coached at Marian High School in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan for nine years, but was fired last month — for getting pregnant. Webb is gay and has been with her partner Kristen Lasecki for five and a half years, but believes that announcing her pregnancy earlier this summer prompted the school to dismiss her.
On Sunday, over 100 people came out to rally behind Webb, including alumni from the girls’ school as well as current students. According to students, the school said nothing to explain to them why their chemistry teacher, volleyball coach, and student government adviser was not returning to her position.
That mirrors the way Webb was actually fired. She was given a choice between resigning, which would allow her to continue receiving health insurance but would require her to remain silent, or she could be fired outright. She chose not to resign, and her letter of termination did not specify a reason for the termination. Not bound by nondisclosure, Webb described the firing on Facebook, encouraging others to “speak out against hate wherever you see it” and acknowledging the “torment” other LGBT students and staff are likely experiencing from the incident. Her post was shared more than 1,000 times.
Michigan law does not offer any employment protections on the basis of sexual orientation, but its protections based on sex do include pregnancy. It’s unclear if the school’s religious identity and moral disapproval of pregnancy out of wedlock would protect it from legal action.