HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - About a dozen people held signs outside Maryknoll School on Wednesday for a former school director asked to step down because she’s pregnant and not married.
Michelle Gabriel, the former director of Maryknoll’s middle school, was eight months pregnant when she was asked to voluntarily step down in January because she’s not married, a family friend said.
Gabriel, a 1999 Maryknoll graduate, worked at the Catholic school for the last 16 years.
Fellow classmates say they were shocked she was told to leave because of concerns from parents and faculty about her pregnancy.
“This is not the Maryknoll we grew up in,” said Jeremy Irvine, who was at the rally.
"Maryknoll is an inclusive community, all about love, family, community, so for this to happen to one of our own, it’s just heartbreaking. We just want the truth and for the school to come out and be transparent in their decision.”
Legal experts say what the school did appears legal since federal anti-discrimination laws do not apply to religious organizations for employees in leadership roles.
A family friend said Gabriel underwent in vitro fertilization, informing the school of her pregnancy at four months. A few days after the school threw a baby shower for her, she was asked to leave.
In a statement the school said:
“We understand there are people who are upset over the departure of Miss Gabriel. Miss Gabriel chose to leave by agreement and was represented by counsel in making that decision."