The teacher of a pre-kindergarten class connected to a Baptist church in Chapin, S.C., was fired on Feb. 21, allegedly for a “conflict of interest” related to her same-sex relationship.
Skye Moore had just returned from her sister’s wedding in Virginia when she showed up for work at Chapin Baptist Child Development Center, where she’d been a teacher of pre-schoolers for five years — and a beloved one, at that. In a Facebook post, Moore says she was immediately met by her supervisor and asked to take a walk to the office of Pastor Michael Hull, who heads the school’s parish, Chapin Baptist Church. He was then joined by Kathy Truluck of the HR board.
The pair were present to let Moore know that a conflict of interest existed between her, the church and the school and that it had nothing to her work ethic or teaching style at all. “Michael Hull says ‘that I fulfill those duties completely and am a great teacher,'” she wrote.
Instead, the pastor told her the reason for her termination was “my personal relationship with my fiancée,” wrote Moore, who is engaged to Hannah Renée Hite, a woman she’s been in a relationship with for three years. Moore says the news put her in a state of shock.
Her termination letter reportedly echoed these sentiments, saying the situation was related to “key doctrinal distinctives that govern the objectives” of the school and church, according to the State. “The dissolving of this working relationship is not a matter of job performance. It is strictly a matter of the conflict of interest. Skye has carried out her duties and responsibilities well.”
But is her firing legal? It’s complicated, as the Civil Rights Act does not recognize sexual orientation as worthy of protection, nor do many states laws; South Carolina does not prohibit discrimination related to employment — or housing or public accommodation — based on sexual orientation and gender identity, according to the Human Rights Campaign. Adding further to the gray area is that churches often have certain legal protections as religious institutions.
Moore claims Hull had been aware of her relationship since he’d become the church’s pastor in August 2018. “Michael Hull seems to have no reason for waiting seven months and firing me in the middle of the school year,” she wrote. “Every parent in my classroom was aware of my relationship with my fiancée and never had an issue or stated that it was a problem to the center or myself.”
The excuse for her firing, Moore wrote, is pure discrimination — and a community of parents who entrusted their children to her agree and are also reeling from the news. “As a parent all you want is to know your kids are happy, loved and in a safe environment when you aren’t around,” mom Jodi Willetts tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “Skye is everything you would want in a teacher and a friend.”
“Every day we walk into school, my sons runs to Skye to tell her about his morning,” says Michelle Fabrizio, whose 4-year-old son is in Moore’s class. “He then asks how she is and also how Hannah is doing. Since Skye has been gone, my son asks every morning where Skye is, and it pains me to have to tell him she is not there today.”
Adds Willets, “To be frank, I was pissed,” referring to Moore’s firing. “This pastor fired the most loving, qualified, gifted person all because of sexual orientation and did not one time think about how this was going to affect the parents or the children she taught. All the parents at the daycare knew about Skye’s sexual orientation, but nobody cared because she was/is one of the best.”
In fact, parents trusted Moore so much — and knew their children were so enamored of their teacher — that they often asked her to babysit too. “She was one of the very few people I would call on to babysit my kids,” Willets says. “Why? They only went to certain people, and Skye was one of them. I knew if they were with Skye, they were taken care of.”
Moore told the State that she has already gotten other job offers — but she said throughout the entire ordeal, her focus has been on the children. “They don’t deserve to go through all this change,” she tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “I have planned for this year and wish I could have finished [the school year] with this group of kids. I miss walking into work every morning and seeing all those smiling faces and cute good-mornings.”
Her fiancée says the perceived discrimination has just made the pair’s relationship even stronger. “It has brought us much closer together because we are going through this awful time,” she notes.
Chapin Baptist Church did not immediately return Yahoo Lifestyle’s request for comment. But Hull told the State, “It is best that I respectfully refrain from making any comments or statements about this matter.”
But that’s not enough for parents in the community. “The manner and reasoning under which Ms. Skye was terminated has left our family heartbroken,” says mom Kristen Christie. “It’s been impossible to rationalize the discrimination and exclusion that was shown to Ms. Skye. Whether it was intended or not, this single decision has created severe hurt and pain for hundreds of children, parents and members of the community and beyond.”
Fabrizio is holding out for an apology and believes the church’s actions are quite simply hypocritical, as homosexuality is not the only “sin” in the eyes of the church. “I would like the church explain why they would be OK to overlook all the other so-called sinners at the church and daycare and just single out Skye,” she said. “Her personal life is just that, her personal life,” added Willetts. “She did not bring her personal life into the daycare.”
Now the parents — who all tells Yahoo Lifestyle that they and their children think of Moore as family — have organized a protest against the church’s decision to oust their favorite faculty member. The aptly named “Skye Is the Best Peaceful Protest” will take place on March 3 — at the church, of course. “ I want her voice to be heard and hopefully anyone else in her shoes,” says Fabrizio. “I would like to think this will help them.”
When asked whether she would return to her job at Chapin Baptist and to the children she holds so dear, Moore said she would, but with one stipulation. “I would love to finish the year with my class of kids,” she says, “but I would not consider that unless Michael Hull was gone.”
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