Fascinating music

Astoria Catholic school music teacher fired for marrying longtime boyfriend

Matthew LaBanca explained how he was fired from a Catholic school and Catholic parish for marrying her boyfriend in a video he posted on Friday (Matthew LaBanca via Youtube)

October 26, 2021 By Allie Griffin

A beloved music teacher at a Catholic school in Astoria was fired from his teaching post earlier this month after the diocese learned he had married her longtime boyfriend.

Matthew LaBanca was fired from his teaching post at St. Joseph’s Catholic Academy and his post as Music Director at Corpus Christi Church in Woodside on October 13. He had worked in both communities for over a decade.

LaBanca said someone notified the Diocese of Brooklyn, which oversees Catholic academies and parishes in Brooklyn and Queens, of his wedding in August.

“I am deprived of my two jobs – of all my jobs, my health insurance and most of all my communities, the daily community life that has meant so much to me,” LaBanca said in a candid video statement released Friday. “Not because of my professional performance, not at all, but because I’m gay.”

A diocesan committee of senior officials met for nearly six weeks to discuss the fate of his job and ultimately decided to fire him from every position, he said.

The director of St. Joseph’s Catholic Academy defended his job, but the decision was up to the diocese – and ultimately Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio – to make, according to LaBanca.

The music teacher was offered severance pay, but it contained a gag order as a condition of acceptance, according to his account.

“Obviously I didn’t sign it because I realized that no price could be put on my personal integrity, on my voice,” LaBanca said.

The Brooklyn Diocese, in a statement on behalf of former LaBanca employers, said LaBanca had failed to comply with church teachings and was fired as a result.

“His contract was terminated based on the expectation that all staff in Catholic schools and academies, and ministers of the Church, will abide by the teachings of the Church, as they share the responsibility of serving the faith to students.” , said a spokesperson. “In his case, it has been determined that he can no longer fulfill his obligations as a minister of the faith in the school or parish.”

While same-sex marriage is legal in New York City and across the country, the Catholic Church does not approve of it.

“Despite changes to New York state law in 2011 legalizing same-sex marriage, Church law is clear,” the spokesperson said. “We wish Mr. LaBanca the best in his future endeavors.”

City and state laws prohibit employers from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation, although the law makes exceptions for religious freedom.

“Just because something is legal doesn’t mean it’s okay,” LaBanca said.

Since the news of his dismissal became known, LaBanca has received a surge of support and the diocese, in turn, a tirade of anger.

Council member Daniel Dromm, chair of the Council’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Caucus, denounced the Brooklyn Diocese and Bishop DiMarzio.

“All Catholics like me who believe love is love should express their disgust at Bishop DiMarzio’s dismissal of this wonderful gay teacher,” Dromm, who is gay, wrote on Twitter.

A petition in favor of LeBanca demanding his reappointment to both positions at SJCA and Corpus Christi has garnered more than 2,000 signatures in just two days.

Council member Jimmy Van Bramer shared the petition on social media and urged more people to sign it.

As a gay man brought up in the Catholic Church, I am outraged by the dismissal of @ BrooklynDiocese teacher @MatthewLaBancaVan Bramer tweeted. “He is by all accounts a beloved teacher. His crime? Marry the man he loves. It is shameful, discrimination.

Parents of SJCA students also signed the petitions and left supportive notes.

Many parents of students in the school said they missed their music teacher.

A mother said she was honored to know LaBanca and that there was no room for hate in the community.

“Sir. LaBanca has made my child’s life better,” said Colette Conlon. “It is an honor to know him. The Church will change or die.

Another parent said his two daughters at school lost an incredible mentor.

“Sir. LaBanca is the sweetest soul and a brilliant teacher,” Alessandra Kucic said on Facebook. “The real tragedy here is to lose him as a teacher. Please sign the petition and maybe- be that the Catholic Church will begin to practice what it preaches instead of this heinous discrimination. ”

She added that the students suffer without him.

“Because of this decision, the music stopped.

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