Denver Archdiocese fires Catholic school teacher after discovering she was in a same-sex relationship

Jim Hill/CPR News
The Archdiocese of Denver is headquartered at the St. John Paul II Center for the New Evangelization in the Cory-Merrill neighborhood of Denver, Colo.

Maggie Barton is speaking out after she was let go from her teaching job at All Souls Catholic School in Englewood. 

Last month, the Archdiocese of Denver terminated Barton’s employment after discovering that she is in a same-sex relationship. 

“I think it's important to kind of get this narrative out there because I know that choosing to work in a Catholic school as a lesbian, as someone within the queer community, might not make sense to everybody,” Barton said. “The reason why I did that is because of my faith. To feel my own faith being weaponized against me in this way, to be terminated and to lose this position is, it's heartbreaking.” 

Barton was a technology teacher and media specialist at the K-8 school for six years. 

She said when the Archdiocese discovered a photo of her and her partner, she was informed that she would be getting a call from the Archdiocese. When she got the call from an official, Barton admitted to being in a same sex-relationship.

“He was asking me a lot of questions about my understanding of the Catholic faith and if I was aware of the church's position on same-sex attraction and all that kind of stuff,” Barton said. “It was a very uncomfortable conversation. That was the only correspondence that I had with the Archdiocese directly.” 

The next day, All Souls officials informed her that she was terminated. 

The Archdiocese released a statement Friday saying that Barton did not honor her commitments agreed to in her contract with the school.

“Every Catholic school teacher in the Archdiocese of Denver, as a minister of the Church, signs a contract at the outset of each school year and in that agreement they pledge to “personally [exemplify] the characteristics of Catholic living, which includes, ‘refraining from taking any public position or conducting him or herself in a manner that is contrary to the teachings of the Catholic Church,’ the Archdiocese wrote.

The Archdiocese said that same-sex attraction is not a cause for termination, but Barton remaining in the relationship violated the terms of her contract.

Courtesy of Maggie Barton's Facebook
Maggie Barton was a technology teacher and media specialist at All Souls Catholic School in Englewood for sixe years before she was fired in January for being in a same-sex relationship. The Denver Archdiocese said she violated the terms of her contract.

Barton grew up in the Catholic Church and went to Catholic schools like All Souls in Texas. When she was a freshman at St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas, she came out to her family and friends and has since lived openly as a queer woman and regularly attended Mass. Her experiences motivated her to work at a Catholic school.

“It's just the idea of love and community within Catholic schools is something that is very familiar to me. It's what I've known my whole life,” Barton said. “I was drawn to that because it's something that I have known and loved.” 

Barton accepted the position at All Souls and moved to Colorado in 2017. It was the only job she’s had since she moved. Now, Barton is looking for another job. She said the All Souls community has been very supportive. Parents even set a GoFundMe to help with her expenses during her job search.

“The All Souls community has been incredible,” Barton said. “I just had an outpour of support  from families and coworkers and even former students and families. It was overwhelming to me how many people were reaching out in support of me.”

Colorado LGBTQ+ advocacy group One Colorado released a statement Friday saying it stands in solidarity with Barton. 

“We are disappointed to see the Denver Archdiocese continue to take this harmful stance towards LGBTQ+ Coloradans,” said Nadine Bridges, One Colorado executive director.  “Faith communities, including schools, should be a place for love and support. Denying admission to LGBTQ+ students, excluding LGBTQ+ parents from full participation, and in this case terminating LGBTQ+ teachers for no other cause than for who they love alienates and discriminates against LGBTQ+ Coloradans of Catholic faith.”

Barton wants to continue teaching and feels that she can bring a lot of value to another school. She hopes to find something outside of the Archdiocese. 

She said her faith was definitely challenged after her termination.

“I was attending weekly Mass. We would go every week at school. I would play guitar actually with the choir of kids at Mass,” Barton said.  “It's hard for me right now to figure out how to navigate what my faith looks like because of all this.”