Teacher fired for being gay fights back

This Florida teacher was fired from a Christian school because she's gay. Now, she fights for equal rights in the workplace.

“My being gay is who I am”

Monica Toro Lisciandro used to teach drama at this Christian school in Florida until they found out she was a lesbian.

“I think it’s an unfair dismissal to dismiss someone for being gay at a Christian school because my being gay is who I am. It has nothing to do with my day-to-day teaching. It’s just an inherent part of my being. Just like me being Puerto Rican. I could not be in a relationship, I could not attend Pride, and I would still be gay. So, it really has nothing to do with my teaching.”, she tells Brut.

The accusations

“On October 2, I go into the head of school and assistant principal’s office, and they say that they have received allegations against me.”, she shared. A parent had told the school that Monica was in a relationship with a woman, had attended LGBT+ Pride events, and hosted LGBT+ friendly events at her dance studio.

“When she says that, I really have a moment of: ‘What am I going to say?’ Because for so many years, I was afraid to truly be myself, and I knew that I had to be truthful. And so, I say, ‘It’s true.” And so, they say to me that if I am gay, I cannot teach at the school. Covenant Christian School non-discrimination policy admits students of any race, color and national and ethnic origin to all activities… It says that it does not discriminate against these things and… what it leaves out is sexual orientation.”, she reveals.

In the U.S., only 21 states prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity

In the spring of 2020, the Supreme Court is expected to rule on whether the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which bars employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, and national origin, applies to discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

“Covenant Christian School receives almost a million dollars in worth of funding, public funding, taxpayer money, and they’re still able to discriminate. And that’s been a huge eye-opener for a lot of people in this particular community. Legally, against my dismissal, I can do nothing. I want the law to change and for there to be equal protection because of the future generations. Right now, what we’re facing, nobody should have to face. Again. We have to change this for the kids who are coming up because it can’t continue on this way. There has to be equality for everyone.”, she acknowledges.

Florida lawmakers have failed to pass an anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination act for a decade

But a new version of the bill, which Monica advocates for, is expected to garner more bipartisan support. “Here I was, staring in the face of something ugly, and forced to make a choice that no queer person wants to make: to hide, to stay silent, to be pressured into shaming myself for who I am. But I wasn’t going to do it anymore. And I want my students to see that you cannot be quiet in the face of injustice”, she admits.

Monica’s Christian faith remains unshaken, but she wants churches to become more inclusive

“You can be gay and Christian. I don’t think that it’s either or. I think it can be both things. And I know that there are people that don’t feel that way, but there are also people who thought that it was wrong for a black person and a white person to get married in a church not too long ago. So, things can change, and gay people as a whole really struggle to find acceptance within the church, and I hope that that can change.”, she concludes.