'An injury beyond words': Teacher fired after revealing she is gay speaks out


"Staying alive is hard."

That's what former Totino-Grace High School teacher Kristen Ostendorft wrote in a blog post for Huffington Post titled "I am Catholic and I am gay. This I know for sure," about her time working at the Catholic school and the pain she felt when she was fired after revealing who she was.

"There are a million things to say about being gay and working at a Catholic school where you get to do work that is truly your vocation. The separate peace one has to make with so many things is almost crippling. And soul-crushing. Staying alive is hard."

Ostendorft – who worked at the school for 18 years – was fired from Totino-Grace in 2013 after telling a room full of colleagues she was gay. Her announcement came not long after the school's president was let go after revealing he was in a committed same-sex relationship.

Being fired by the Catholic Church was "an injury beyond words," Ostendorf told the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), which this week highlighted stories of teachers who were fired from Catholic institutions for being gay in anticipation of Pope Francis' visit to the United States.

“I am not willing to believe that the people of God want to send me away because I am wrong or bad or a dangerous influence on children. But that is what firing me says," she told the HRC.

"I lost my job, my community, my history. I lost my chance to live my vocation," Ostendorft wrote on the Huffington Post blog, which also did a series on LGBT Catholics keeping their faith, despite being rejected by the Catholic Church.

Ostendorft says she has hope for the future and hope for the approach Pope Francis is taking, writing on the HuffPo blog: "As someone on the margins, I am glad to feel like the Good Shepherd may be calling us all in at last."

Ostendorf now teaches at Highland Park High School in St. Paul, where she was hired soon after she lost her job at Totino-Grace.

In July, she married her partner, Aimee Engebretson, the Star Tribune says.

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