http://www.lasvegassun.com/sunbin/stories/sun/2006/may/24/566614609.html May 24, 2006 Gorman fires gay teacher Instructor revealed preference on Web site By Emily Richmond <[email protected]> and Christina Littlefield <[email protected]> Las Vegas Sun As a Bishop Gorman High School teacher for six years, Jeff Crouse relished imparting knowledge to young minds. With his doctorate in film and television studies from the University of Warwick in England, Crouse handpicked cream-of-the-crop seniors to take his college-level classes in philosophy and film studies. He was active outside the classroom, too - challenging students through a Philosophy Society Club and heading the school's chapter of Amnesty International. A former seminarian, Crouse, 45, said he appreciated the Catholic culture at Bishop Gorman because of the freedom it allowed him to develop his classes and to teach from a religious perspective. But he discovered Bishop Gorman's absolute intolerance on some matters when he promoted himself on the popular Web site MySpace.com, where he detailed his taste in music, movies - and men. It somehow came to the attention of school administrators. Within a week, he was fired. Crouse said he was called into the principal's office May 12 and told he was being terminated, per his contract, for "maintaining, by word or action, a position contrary to the ordinary teaching of the Catholic Church." According to Crouse, when he asked what the infraction was, officials showed him material from his MySpace page, but wouldn't elaborate. Las Vegas Diocese and school officials declined to comment on Crouse's case, citing personnel confidentiality. Crouse would not discuss whether he regretted posting his personal profile on the Web site, or whether he plans to fight his termination. He has found himself in the same lot as other Catholic teachers across the country who have been fired for espousing beliefs or acting contrary to church teachings. Violating church doctrine is grounds for immediate dismissal, according to a contract all Bishop Gorman teachers sign. Crouse wrote on his Web site that he was gay and looking for "straight-acting single men." The church teaches that same-sex relations are a sin. The Catholic Church expects teachers to serve as role models for students and to know, act and teach in accordance with church doctrine, said Richard A. Facciolo, chancellor and superintendent of schools for the Las Vegas Diocese. At school, Crouse did not discuss his sexual orientation and did not mention the Web site, students said. "He's a really good teacher, very creative," said a student who asked not to be identified. "He really tries to get the kids into learning. He should have every right to do what he wants as long as he doesn't bring it into the school, which he didn't." But Catholic educators disagree. "The ideal is to kind of practice what we preach," said Leonard DeFiore, an education professor at Catholic University and past president of the National Catholic Education Association. "Parents entrust their children to Catholic schools with the understanding that they are going to get teachers and a curriculum that reflects that Catholic faith." There are various examples of Catholic teachers being fired for violating church doctrine. A Milwaukee teacher is appealing her 2004 firing for getting pregnant through in vitro fertilization. In April, a football coach at a Massachusetts school was fired for getting his girlfriend pregnant. In November, a young Brooklyn, N.Y., teacher was fired for getting pregnant out of wedlock. And in October, a Sacramento teacher was fired after officials learned she had previously volunteered at an abortion clinic. In earlier cases, teachers have been fired for espousing pro-choice beliefs and for getting remarried without having the previous marriage annulled. The church teaches that sexual acts are reserved for marriage, for purposes of procreation. Anything else is considered a sin, including premarital sex, homosexual acts, using birth control or artificial means of getting pregnant. Nonreligious employers are legally prohibited from discriminating on the basis of religion or sexual orientation, but religious organizations can hire and fire on the basis of their religious beliefs. That allows them to put restrictions on employees, including their sexual orientation, said Lee Rowland, a public advocate for the American Civil Liberties Union. "Bishop Gorman may consider that a bona fide part of the job is to be straight, which we believe is unfortunate," Rowland said. Crouse's pages on the MySpace site contain no mention of Gorman. He identifies himself as a 45-year-old Catholic single man who "adore(s) my job and I have all summer off." He states he is seeking "straight-acting, single men ¦ please no bisexuals, those with HIV, or effeminate men." Walt Rulffes, superintendent of the Clark County School District, wouldn't speculate how the incident would have been handled if the teacher involved was a public school employee. However, Rulffes said, "All individuals in positions of trust who work with children must be held to the highest standards." Christina Littlefield can be reached at 259-8813 or at [email protected].