Ellen Meets Indiana Guidance Counselor Shelly Fitzgerald

Ellen Meets Indiana Guidance Counselor Shelly Fitzgerald


This story is crazy. I learned about this
story right when we were coming back this season. And so thank you for being here. I know a lot of people
wanted to talk to you. But your story needs to
be heard by everybody. Thank you. So explain what happened. I said that you worked
there for 15 years. I did. And? Well, so not only did I
work there for 15 years, but I went to high
school there, too. So I’ve been there kind
of my whole entire life. About three weeks
ago, I got an email from our President of
the school and asked if I could meet with him and
our principal the next day. And so I went in. I actually e-mailed my
principal first and I just said, you know, should
I be worried about this? Because I really don’t meet
with the two of them together. And so he called
me back and kind of gave me a little bit of
insight, what was going on. Someone had turned in
my marriage certificate to our principal, who then
turned it into the Archbishop, and that they needed
to discuss it with me. It’s a Catholic school. It is a Catholic school. And so when I got
into the meeting, the President pushed my marriage
certificate kind of in front of me, had a copy of it. And he said, who is this? And I said, that’s
my wife, Victoria. And so they proceeded then to
kind of give me a few options. And– Which were? They told me that I could
dissolve my marriage. They told me that
I could resign. They told me if it
stayed kind of quiet, and it didn’t get
into the media, and I didn’t let anybody
know what was going on, that I could potentially keep
my job for the rest of the year. But then they wouldn’t renew
my contract the following year. And they said that if it
got too boisterous, too loud in the media, that they would
have to terminate me soon. OK. So they all knew you were gay. The students didn’t know. Correct. The parents didn’t know. Correct. You kept it quiet. Right. But the whole– all the
other teachers knew, the principal knew,
everyone knew. Yeah. Everyone– I mean,
probably not everyone. But it’s like anything in
your– well, not your life. But– Yeah. –my life. I’m gay! [LAUGHING] But, you know, you let
people know who you love– Right –the people you trust. And so, yeah, the majority of
the people who were there knew. How long have you been married? We’ve been married four
years since it became– How long– –legal. –have you been together? 22 years. You’ve been together 22 years. Yes. [APPLAUSE] And you have a little girl. Well, she’s bigger than I am. She’s 12– She’s– –almost 13. –12, all right. I mean, been together 22 years. Been married four
years, and they’re giving you the option to
dissolve your marriage or resign. Right. And then they said,
if you keep it quiet you can stay until
the end of the year. But it wasn’t your choice. They are the ones who
announced it, right? Yeah, right. So when I finished that meeting
and walked back to my office– and I told them I
have no desire to– I’m obviously not going
to dissolve my marriage. I have no desire to resign
from a job that I adore. And so I guess a
couple of days later, they announced that I was on
administrative paid leave, and that I was
banned from campus, which was obviously hurtful. And then they released a
statement the following day, basically just saying that
Shelly Fitzgerald, in bold, had been placed on
administrative leave because she’s
married to a woman. And they put it on all
of their social media and sent out a
press release and– So they outed you. To the world. A lot of people were
learning that you were gay by them doing that? Correct. Wow. Yes. Where is it right now? So we’ve met a couple of
times with the Archbishop, where we met with the Archbishop
and I gave them some terms that I would love to see changed
in the contract, that he told me there’s no way
we’re doing this but that we want to work
together and see what happens. And so it’s kind of
just in limbo still. Well, we have a
surprise for you. We’ll be right back. How did the students react? Oh, they’ve been incredible. I mean, it’s been– you know, we’ve taught
them in this school, it’s a life prep school,
and we’ve taught them you stick up for people
and you love people and you do it with kindness. And they have. Our first football
game of the year, they had everybody
dressed in rainbow stuff and had signs and, “I support
Miss Fitzgerald,” and– Wow, huh? That’s amazing. And they started a
GoFundMe page for you. And I just– they sound amazing. Let’s meet them. Come on out. Oh! I’m just assuming you’re Elijah. Yes, ma’am. And who are you? Anna. Anna. I’m Raquel. Raquel. Reagan. Maddie. OK. And you’re a football player. I’m the running back. The running back. OK, so it was your choice. You go out on game
day and do what? So before the game, mom, she
ordered a bunch of pride gear. Like what did she order? She ordered a sweat
band and a bandanna. And so I thought it’d be cool
to show the whole community that I’m an ally and that
I support Miss Fitzgerald, and everybody else. Unbelievable. I know. I know. I know. They’re unbelievable. So she’s a guidance counselor. So what can you say
about this woman that– I mean, we’re hearing
this story and you can hear the audience is
shocked by what’s going on. You’re shocked by it. But tell me about her. For me, I had quite a
few issues last year, and she was always there for me. Her door was always open. Her room kind of
became my safe spot, and she was just my
person at Roncalli. That’s amazing. And now she’s not there,
and that’s really hard. She’s somebody
that you counted on to go talk to when you were
going through whatever it is. So you started a
GoFundMe page for her. And you’ve raised
how much so far? Close to $4,000. $4,000. $4,000. And what are you going
to do with the money? Well, they have
started a foundation. And so they’re going to use it
to be a catalyst for change, to just continue the word, and
to get things out, and continue change beyond just this story. Yeah. Good, because that school
sounds like it needs that. Yes. So here’s what we want to do. Our friends at Shutterfly
love helping people tell their inspiring stories. They want to give you $25,000
towards your GoFundMe page. Oh, my god! Oh, my god! [EXCITED YELL] Oh, that is awesome. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you so much. Before we go to break
I should say this, if there is someone in
Indianapolis, Indiana– right– if this
school does not want to hire her back–
which, I mean, you went there to high school. I assume it’s important to you. It is. But if there’s another
school out there that would like to hire
Shelly, I urge you to do so. I mean, this is an amazing woman
who is doing some great things. Yes. Yes.

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