NJ private school forces teacher to remove Facebook page after anti-gay posts

SOMERVILLE, N.J. (RNS) A Catholic high school teacher was forced to remove her Facebook page Wednesday (March 11) after a petition surfaced online calling attention to her "homophobic" posts.

The petition was posted on change.org Tuesday and had 441 signatures as of Wednesday evening. It points directly to posts allegedly made by Patricia Jannuzzi, a theology teacher at Immaculata High School in Somerville, and has caught the eye of actress Susan Sarandon and former "Real Housewives of New Jersey" cast member Greg Bennett.

"Mrs Jannuzzi's facebook is a religious curtain covering hateful message," the petition reads. "The homophobic and short-sighted posts are disturbing and degrading."

In a statement, the school said it took "immediate action" and "mandated that the teacher involved permanently de-active her Facebook page."

"The opinions reflected in these posts do not in any way represent the philosophy, mission or student experience of this high school," the statement said. "... Through our investigation, we have determined that the information posted on this social media page has not been reflected in the curriculum content of the classes she teaches."

Jannuzzi's Facebook page, which was public at one point, was removed Wednesday morning.

Thomas Robinson, a 2001 graduate of Immaculata, said he was "taken aback" after seeing one of Jannuzzi's posts and decided to create the change.org petition.

"I thought it was wrong and a lot of people thought it was wrong," Robinson said. "So I decided to start a petition."

Bennett, a graduate of Immaculata in 2004 who is openly gay, is among several alumni who signed the petition and took a screenshot before Jannuzzi's page was removed. He tweeted out the screenshot to his 165,000 followers Tuesday.

"It worried me as someone who sat in her classroom," Bennett said, adding that any student who is questioning his or her sexuality shouldn't be subjected to that line of thinking.

Another alumnus, Scott Lyons, who is gay and had Jannuzzi as a teacher, shared a letter on Facebook he sent to her after reading one of her posts. He said in the letter that he remembers Jannuzzi's classes to be "focused on love and acceptance" but that he is "offended and disappointed" by her recent posts.

"While I respect the fact that people have different opinions on the matter what I can tell you from my heart is that I urge you to be careful with your words and the messaging you are putting out there," he wrote.

Lyons is the nephew of Sarandon, who shared the post with her 3,000 followers.

Susan Sarandon at the Los Angeles Premiere of "Jeff, Who Lives At Home" held at the DGA Theatre on March 7, 2012.

Susan Sarandon at the Los Angeles Premiere of "Jeff, Who Lives At Home" held at the DGA Theatre on March 7, 2012.

"So proud of my nephew Scott and the dialogue he started," Sarandon writes. " ... High school is a tough time anyway ... students don't need teachers making it even more difficult."

Immaculata said in its statement that the school is reviewing its social media policy with faculty and staff members.

"It is the policy of the school that all faculty and staff demonstrate respect and sensitivity to all people at all times and to avoid offending any individuals or groups," the statement said.

The petition was addressed to Principal Jean Kline. It also names John Hack, director of alumni relations; Assistant Principal Anne Brigid Gallagher; and Monsignor Seamus Brennan.

Hack deferred any comments to Kline. Messages left for Gallagher and Brennan were not returned.

Jannuzzi did not respond to an email and phone message seeking comment.

In April, the New Jersey School Board Associated updated its model policy on how schools should treat social media after Gov. Chris Christie signed a bill requiring local school boards to create policies. Districts could adopt a policy put forth by the NJSBA or create their own. Regardless, every district needed to have one within 120 days of Christie's signing the legislation.

Under NJSBA policy, any "problematic or offensive material" posted on social media should be brought to the attention of the board president.

Private schools, however, are not held to the same regulations as public schools and therefore are not mandated by the state to have social media policies.

Robinson said his goal isn't to get Jannuzzi fired. But he wants the school to promote awareness against hate speech in the future.

"She's entitled to her opinion as a person," he said, "but it shouldn't be accessible for her students to read that stuff."

(Alex Napoliello writes for The Star-Ledger and NJ Advance Media.)




  1. Uh, am I the only one who sees the giant hole in this story? What the heck did the teacher post, for pete’s sake?!?

  2. Another ruined apostolate. We have a Catholic school where the utterance of a Catholic moral teaching would be grounds for discipline. Note that the screenshot in question does not even do that. It just says that loudmouth homosexuals are talking out of two sides of their mouth. In the minds of the educational apparat, homosexuals are such special snowflakes that no critical assessment of their arguments or motives may be offered.

  3. The policy of the school regarding social media is, “It is the policy of the school that all faculty and staff demonstrate respect and sensitivity to all people at all times and to avoid offending any individuals or groups..” That is interesting, because Christ is offensive to many people and groups. So this Christian school prohibits its teachers from mentioning Christ? The world is getting just plain weird.

  4. It’s not Christ that is offensive to many individuals and groups.

    It’s a certain class of his so-called followers: the moralizing, busybodies, the theocrats and theocrazies.

  5. The religious orders which founded schools like that are imploding demographically because their recruitment collapsed after the 2d Vatican disaster. They’re legatee organizations running on fumes and have no real charism. They cannot staff the schools and there is so little point to their vocation that the schools would not be worthwhile if they could.

    As for the diocesan schools, they’re run by church-o-crats who have no serious comittments either. It’s doubtful the differ much from the usual social type who has an aversion to employment with operational measures of competence.

    So, there is no Catholic education. You have, instead, suburban nice which pleases their paying clientele. That has little to do with abiding good manners and a great deal to do with contemporary fashion (much of which would have embarrassed an ordinary burgess in 1975 or even 1995).

  6. He works for a religious school. He voluntarily chose to be bond by its rules. Those rules involved engaging in behavior which would reflect upon the school.

    Unless you think those arguments only apply to gay teachers. 😉

  7. Catholic school education is becoming less desirable as they choose to emphasize dogmatic purity over providing quality education.

  8. Freedom of religion, freedom of press, freedom of speech…all are being eroded in the name of silencing any dissenting opinion to the approval of homosexual behavior. Tyranny is growing the US in the name of political correctness. Either all Constitutional freedoms apply to everyone or none of them apply to anyone anymore.

  9. She is saying in her blog, that gay activists want to have it both ways: first these activists contended that people are born gay, and they must be given rights because it is not of their own choosing. Then they conversely say that the gay lifestyle is a choice which must be acknowledged, and reckoned as “normal.” However, she is saying that the real underlying principle, is to completely change our Western Culture, which is a product of Christianity. She then goes on to say what I believe, as well: that the ideal healthy family, has both a mother and a father, who are married, and that apart from that model, the children are raised in a less than perfect situation, and that this can do harm to their psyche during the developmental years.

  10. No one has been silenced. That’s just your narrative about why more and more people don’t agree with you.

    “Either all Constitutional freedoms apply to everyone or none of them apply to anyone anymore.”

    which is what we gay people have been saying to you people for years.It’s not us that wants to establish a Christian theocracy. That’s all you.

  11. Ben, this country is what it is because it was built upon the foundation of Christ. You are enjoying the fruits of Christianity, whether you believe that or not.

  12. In other words she was blowing smoke and insulting gay people.

    So what part of Western Culture is a product of Christianity? Be specific. Other than as a cause of conflict for centuries, you are not even remotely correct here.

  13. Greg you are full of crap.

    Show me where in the US constitution is Christ mentioned.

    Show me where in the New Testament is any reference to representative government of the people.

    We are enjoying the fruits of people fleeing the excesses of state sponsored Christianity and the horrors it inflicted on Europe and the rest of the world. We are enjoying personal liberties which would be denied to a nation if your form of Christianity is officially recognized.

    Nobody is denying bigoted Christians a voice under color of law. But having a right of free speech does not mean one has a right to speech without consequences or reaction. Especially by private entities. If the teacher didn’t want to be bound by the rules of the private school, they had no business working for one. That is the same argument you would give if a teacher is fired for marrying their gay partner. It works here too ironically.

  14. Rewriting American history to fit your narrow mindedness or just your ignorance? America was founded upon Christian principles; it’s that simple.

  15. It’s clear you ignore the bible or are ignorant of it, which is God’s law. You can call those that follow God’s law as moralizing but take it up with God and see what he says about homosexuality.

  16. Larry, you’re hate and ignorance is showing as Greg is right and you just can’t stand the truth so you must share your bigoted views for the world to see in an effort to shut those up from expressing their views that don’t march in lock step with your twisted ideology.

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