No workplace is perfect, and there are going to be people who try to make the best of it for themselves and their coworkers.
But some people may not see it that way, pointed out the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.
Redditor Garay-Kat was in a tough situation when they advised one of their coworkers not to bring their life partner because of how it would be perceived by the priest.
Easily perceived as a homophobic comment, the Original Poster (OP) wondered if they should have handled the situation differently.
They asked the sub:
“AITA if I don’t let one of our employees bring his partner
The previous year, everyone was able to attend the Christmas party.
“So I work as the head administrator in a Catholic school, which means that the person that makes all the final decisions is a priest from the order (which rotates each of four years).”
“Each December we make a special Christmas Dinner with all of our employees and we let them bring their partner if they have one.”
“And this is where the problem is. One of our teachers (let’s call him Dave) is gay and the last Christmas Dinner (in 2019 because there wasn’t one in 2020 for obvious reasons), he brought his male partner to the dinner.”
“The head priest that we had at the time was young and more ‘modern’ so he was ok with it.”
With a new priest, the OP didn’t think that would happen this year.
“But last year the head priest changed and the new one is a lot more conservative.”
“For example, he didn’t accept a kid into the school because his parents allowed him to be effeminate.”
“So we worry that if Dave brings his partner the priest will not like it.”
“We don’t know what he would do, but this year has been quite stressful so the least we want is to have a problem in the Christmas Dinner.”
“So when Dave asked me the date of the dinner, I told him that he shouldn’t bring his partner to avoid causing a conflict.”
The OP had mixed feelings.
“He got really mad about it, I tried to explain myself but he just left.”
“And look, I get that it must suck to not be able to bring your partner to an event like this, but he works on a Catholic school.”
“And all I’m trying to do is avoid conflict.”
Fellow Redditors weighed in:
- NTA: Not the A**hole
- YTA: You’re the A**hole
- ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
- NAH: No A**holes Here
Some were incredibly angry with the OP about the situation.
“My view is that if you discriminate against someone to protect a b*got, you’re an a**hole.”
“The question OP asked is if they’d be the a**hole if they ‘don’t let’ Dave bring their partner. OP is proposing actively preventing it from happening.”
“The reason given for this is that if Dave does bring their partner, the priest ‘will not like it.’ So OP is discriminating against someone to protect a b*got. That’s what makes them an a**hole.” – dtji
“Guess what, OP?”
“You’ve now opened yourself up to a lawsuit in the US. You have discriminated against someone in the workplace due to their sexuality. And your employee will win! You’ve now opened up the school to this lawsuit!”
“Oh. YTA.” – StormyAurora
Others agree and said the OP could have handled the situation the wrong way.
“I think people understand how the catholic church works. We see this bulls**t in the news all the time, how certain religions are given free rein when it comes to discrimination. This does not make OP NTA though.”
“OP could have said it to Dave differently. Something like ‘the head priest will be at the dinner and he is less open minded about homosexuality than the last head priest, and I worry that he may decide to terminate your position with us, if you bring your partner, but it is up to you whether you bring him. I won’t make that decision for you.'” – kittyfantastico85
“Anyone over his head would probably agree with him. OP isn’t totally wrong for trying to get the coworker to not bring their partner; the priest has jurisdiction to let people go without having to go through OP.”
“If OP really is doing this to protect coworker/subordinate’s job, then they wouldn’t be TA. Especially in a situation where they cannot control another person and that person can let go of anyone they please.”
“I mean it’s technically still a bit of an AH because the coworker is being singled out. But semi justified?? Catholic schools can be… brutal. If it’s to protect the coworker, I would say maybe somewhat justified in being an AH.” – meliocoilean
Some understood the demands the OP felt in the workplace.
“As a queer person, I don’t want to hide my relationship. HOWEVER being raised Catholic, I know how things usually go with Catholics and queer people.”
“You are trying to warn Dave that his job would be at risk because of this old-fashioned homophobic priest.”
“You don’t come across as homophobic at all, and if anything, as a queer person, I appreciate what you’re doing and how you’re attempting to protect Dave’s job.” – uhohitslillbboy
“Dave chose to work at an institution that ‘is given free rein when it comes to discrimination.’ At least in my country, people search for jobs in Catholic schools because the pay is better than in other schools, since they are private and expensive. He knew this could happen.”
“I’m not defending the head priest, the Catholic church, the people who think Pope Francis is illegitimate, that’s not the point here.”
“The point is OP’s action, and I get where it comes from. I’ve said it already, I don’t understand why Dave would want to put his partner through such a shitty situation. The head priest won’t be uninvited, he oversees the whole school. Dave’s position might not be the only one at risk to be terminated.”
“Working in places with religious or political affiliations, when you’re not part of the group or don’t share their beliefs, is a shitty situation to be in. But he knew it from the start, he’s not a teacher at a public school who was surprised by a conservative new headmaster. The previous, open-minded head priest was the exception here.” – ventoderaio
“It’s easy for people to call OP a homophobe because he worked for the Catholic Church and is practicing homophobe on behalf of the church.”
“If anything I’m surprised at how much of a pass that Dave is getting for working for the Catholic Church, as if he didn’t know the Catholic Church viewed him as a second-class citizen.” – reble02
“OP is trying to gently warn Dave… which like it or not… is the right thing to do.”
“Dave needs to have the facts and decide what he and his partner are in for, and what effect it may have on his livelihood. In the US, the Supreme Court does allow discrimination based on religion.”
“It may be awful, but it’s legal. I don’t think OP bringing it to the light makes them complicit or a homophobe. They are a realist.” – QuirkySyrup55947
Though the OP was trying to avoid conflict, the subReddit had mixed feelings about whether or not that had happened. On the one hand, the OP may have only been trying to help and could have worded their advice better. On the other hand, the OP had something that was incredibly insensitive to their colleague, whether or not they were in a Catholic school.