A one-time standout basketball player at a Catholic school in the Rochester, Minnesota, area is now alleging discrimination for her rejected attempt to serve as the junior varsity basketball coach at her alma mater.
As reported by The Med City Beat, Katie Erbe-Shea was encouraged to apply to be the junior varsity women’s basketball coach at Lourdes High School, the Catholic school where she starred in the in the mid-1990s and helped earn two state titles.
Then, just as she was expecting to be confirmed as the school’s new JV coach, she was instead told that her lifestyle choice prevented the Rochester Catholic system from offering her a job.
“I was pretty much offered the job,” Erbe-Shea told The Med City Beat, “and then the next day, I was told I would never be able to coach for them.
“What I do in my private life has nothing to do with what kind of coach I would be. I think I would be a great role model for these young girls.”
While Erbe-Shea has proclaimed her disappointment in being passed over for the role, there’s nothing that explicitly makes it illegal for her school to do that, as the school bears no public funding and there are no federal statutes that explicitly bar religious educational institutions from using criteria that bar someone from being allowed to teach or coach.
All of that makes it hard for Erbe-Shea to present a compelling case for her to overturn the ruling, even though the Minnesota Human Rights Act does prohibit employment-related discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. The bottom line is that there are exceptions from the act for some religious organizations, and the Catholic system may very well successfully be placed within such a bracket.
None of that makes what has happened to Erbe-Shea particularly fair. It just explains why it won’t be overturned, much to the chagrin of one of Lourdes’ greatest former athletes.