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Music Teacher at Astoria Catholic School Fired for Marrying His Longtime Boyfriend

Matthew LaBanca explained how he was fired from a Catholic school and a Catholic parish for marrying his boyfriend in a video he posted Friday (Matthew LaBanca via Youtube)

Oct. 26, 2021 By Allie Griffin

A beloved music teacher at an Astoria Catholic school was fired from his teaching position earlier this month after the diocese learned he married his longtime boyfriend.

Matthew LaBanca was let go from both his teaching position at St. Joseph Catholic Academy and his position as the music director at Corpus Christi Church in Woodside on Oct. 13. He had worked in both communities for more than a decade.

LaBanca said someone tipped off the Diocese of Brooklyn, which oversees Catholic academies and parishes in both Brooklyn and Queens, to his August wedding.

“I’m stripped of both of my jobs — all of my employment, my health insurance and most importantly stripped of the communities, the daily community life that has meant so much to me,” LaBanca said in a heartfelt video statement posted Friday. “Not because of my work performances, not in the slightest, but because I’m gay.”

A Diocesan committee of high-ranking officials met for nearly six weeks to discuss the fate of his employment and ultimately decided to terminate him from each position, he said.

The principal at St. Joseph Catholic Academy defended his employment, but the decision was the Diocese’s — and ultimately Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio’s — to make, according to LaBanca.

The music teacher was offered a severance package, but it contained a gag order as a term of acceptance, according to his account.

“Obviously, I have not signed it because I realized that no price could be placed on my personal integrity, on my voice,” LaBanca said.

The Diocese of Brooklyn, in a statement on behalf of LaBanca’s former employers, said LaBanca failed to comply with church teachings and was terminated as a result.

“His contract has been terminated based on the expectations that all Catholic school and academy personnel, and ministers of the Church, comply with Church teachings, as they share in the responsibility of ministering the faith to students,” a spokesperson said. “In his case, it has been determined that he can no longer fulfill his obligations as a minister of the faith at either the school or the parish.”

While same-sex marriage is legal in New York and nationwide, the Catholic Church doesn’t approve.

“Despite changes to New York State law in 2011 legalizing same-sex marriage, Church law is clear,” the spokesperson said. “We wish Mr. LaBanca only the best in his future endeavors.”

Both city and state laws prohibit employers from discrimination based on sexual orientation, although the law makes exceptions for religious freedom.

“Just because something is legal, doesn’t make it right,” LaBanca said.

Since the news of his firing became known, LaBanca has received an outpouring of support and the Diocese, in turn, a tirade of anger.

Council Member Daniel Dromm, chair of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Caucus of the Council, denounced the Brooklyn Diocese and Bishop DiMarzio.

“Every Catholic like me who believes Love is Love should express their disgust at Bishop DiMarzio’s firing of this wonderful gay teacher,” Dromm, who is gay, wrote on Twitter.

A petition in support of LeBanca that demands his reappointment to both positions at SJCA and Corpus Christi has garnered more than 2,000 signatures in just two days.

Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer shared the petition on social media and urged more people to sign it.

As a gay man raised in the Catholic Church I’m outraged at the firing of @BrooklynDiocese teacher @MatthewLaBanca,” Van Bramer tweeted. “He’s by all accounts a beloved teacher. His crime? Marrying the man he loves. This is disgraceful, discrimination.”

Parents of students at SJCA have also signed the petitions and left notes of support.

Many parents of students at the school said the students miss their music teacher.

One mother said she was honored to know LaBanca and that there is no place for hate in the community.

“Mr. LaBanca made my child’s life better,” Colette Conlon said. “It’s an honor to know him. The Church will change, or die.”

Another parent said her two daughters at the school have lost an amazing mentor.

“Mr. LaBanca is the sweetest soul and a brilliant teacher,” Alessandra Kucic said on Facebook. “The real tragedy here is losing him as our teacher. Please sign the petition and maybe the Catholic church will start practicing what they preach instead of this hateful discrimination.”

She added that the students are hurting without him.

“Because of this decision the music has stopped.”

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69 Comments

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Anonymous

He signed a contract that explicitly stated his teaching was a ministry.
He worked for years (No tell. No problem)
He exuberantly revealed his new marriage.
Out you go.
I believe all schools receive NYS public funds for doing things that are required by law..such as taking attendance, providing state or district approved textbooks, supplying school nurses, providing limited yellow bus transport and student metro cards.
Hint..don’t work for diocesan schools controlled by bishops. Work for a religious order sponsored school especially if the religious order has a papal charter.
Same contract. Little to no enforcement.
I had two gay guys as teachers in the late 50’s. One was a Korean War vet, the other was just a terrific social studies teacher. 15 years out, I hired a high school student who also had these two teachers. She said “yes! Everyone knows they are guy. Both are now dead. I knew a RC school principal who was guy. And I knew a fantastic married lesbian teacher. The entire school loved her, knew her status and mourned her death. She never added her wife to the medical plan. She just never was flamboyant. Just lived her life in a Christian way.
I miss them all.
Don’t shove your private life into the face of your employer! Rule #1.

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Joanna

I disagree with firing a teacher for being LGBTQ in general, but it’s a Catholic school, run by the local Catholic diocese. I’m surprised people are surprised this is happening.

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Laura

There should be bigger outrage in Astoria over this, instead everyone is upset over Dave Chappelle.

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natalie

I’m surprised any gay person would even want to work for a catholic school. It’s no secret how they feel about the gay community.

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43rd & 43rd

Interesting. Gluttony is one of the seven deadly sins (being gay is not). So I assume all of their overweight staff have already been fired for not complying with their religious beliefs. Along with any employees who are proud, greedy, angry, jealous, lazy, or not chaste.

Anything else would be amazing hypocrisy…

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Edward and Carol Gladstone

This is SO HYPOCRITICAL! How many gay priests and pedophiles have been protected by the church? Where is the humanity and love they preach? Where is the concern for the children? Reinstate Matt Labanca and fine the diocese for violating his civil rights.

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Private life proponent

He signed a contract that explicitly stated his teaching was a ministry.
He worked for years (No tell. No problem)
He exuberantly revealed his new marriage.
Out you go.
I believe all schools receive NYS public funds for doing things that are required by law..such as taking attendance, providing state or district approved textbooks, supplying school nurses, providing limited yellow bus transport and student metro cards.
Hint..don’t work for diocesan schools controlled by bishops. Work for a religious order sponsored school especially if the religious order has a papal charter.
Same contract. Little to no enforcement.
I had two gay guys as teachers in the late 50’s. One was a Korean War vet, the other was just a terrific social studies teacher. 15 years out, I hired a high school student who also had these two teachers. She said “yes! Everyone knows they are guy. Both are now dead. I knew a RC school principal who was guy. And I knew a fantastic married lesbian teacher. The entire school loved her, knew her status and mourned her death. She never added her wife to the medical plan. She just never was flamboyant. Just lived her life in a Christian way.
I miss them all.
Don’t shove your private life into the face of your employer! Rule #1.

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linda corradetti rogers

I grew up in sunnyside and attended 12 yrs of catholic school. The catholic church is managed by a bunch of liars who are also fraudsters. Is it any wonder that so many people have left the church and continue to leave ? I hope this teacher sues the diocese, wins a ton of compensation, and then tells the church where to shove it.

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Veronica

Hell, I’m GLAD this keeps happening. It’s making people take a really long look at what they’re doing with their lives. Catholicism is doing more than atheists ever could to convert people to non believers lol.

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Martha

I don’t see how the Catholic church can survive in modern society if they ignore modern social changes. The institution needs to adapt. People just don’t feel as guilty anymore about original sin.

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Idonotcareandyoudonothavetovolunteranyinfo

One is not supposed to feel guilty about “original sin.”
Why should any organization need to adapt to behavior that it considers objectionable?
Do gay people assume people are gay or straight?
I do not care what your sex or preferences are!

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Gary

What happened to this music teacher sends the wrong message out to the public. I especially feel bad for the lgbtq students that are harassed or bullied because of outcomes like this in 2021.

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Jorge

Two morals of this story:

1. Gays with any sense shouldn’t work for the Catholic church. I believe their standard contract basically states that they can fire you for things like this.

2. The US government should not have an exception for religious institutions in their fair employment laws.

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Kayla

Tolerance it seems is a one way street to supporters of “alternative” lifestyles. I have read stories of students and staff getting expelled for posting on social media in support of traditional marriage all over the country.

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43rd & 43rd

Nobody has ever been fired or expelled in the US because they said “I think it should be legal for a man to marry a woman.” LOL.

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Carlos

Glad he was fired. Was the right thing to do. Some Catholic Schools are Catholic in name only.

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Gay people can teach music

“Music teacher claims being gay doesn’t hinder their ability to teach music”

Do you understand what a music teacher does? The alt-right isn’t great at nuance…

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Margarita

I’m fine with firing the teacher for being in a homosexual relationship. I can’t believe that anyone would think it’s fine to let them stay after entering into a homosexual marriage.

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Send us a postcard from Alabama

The thing is that in NYC people aren’t usually so fragile that they fire people because they offended their feelings. This person taught music and got married to the person they loved. Why should their personal life cost them their job?

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Gabe

The only potential problem I see here on the school’s end is that they are receiving government funding for a voucher program (and possibly reduced-price lunch for low-income students if the school is anything like mine was). Threatening to cut off such funding could be used to twist the school’s arm in the future. If the laws of the Church don’t match the laws of the state, why accept funding from the state? I feel that in order for Catholic institutions to be truly free of secular expectations they must gradually find a new way to procure funding for such programs, preferably through private donations.

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Miggie Warms

The Catholic Church has really shot itself in the foot on this one. After decades of looking the other way when priests sexually abused children, it decides to fire a music teacher (who was not hired to teach religion) because he took advantage of the opportunity to gain the legal rights available in our society only through marriage. In all likelihood, the church leaders at the school were well aware that he was gay and possibly that he was co-habiting with a same sex partner and were willing to ignore it until informed that a legal marriage had taken place. Just more hypocrisy (and a failure of logic) on the part of the Roman Catholic Church. Why are we not surprised?

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Furkan

Why doesn’t the Church “fire” gay clergy? They are all over social media claiming how proud they are and that love is love.

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Michelle

The church should not discriminate in matters of employment. They should not require all employees to be ministers of faith. This requirement is a tool of discrimination against employing people of other religious beliefs as well as the LGBTQ community. A music teacher should` not be called upon to to exemplify or educate students about Christian doctrine .Seems like the Catholic Church was ok with the child molesting priests ability to exemplify and educate doctrine. with just a change of location. Remaining at a new location as long as they were able to commit more heinous child molestation without detection. When discovered the church just moved their location another time. Shameless hypocrisy!!

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Nadia

Typical of the Catholic Church.Still living in the Middle Ages and at the same time covering up so much pedophilia in the ranks of their home grown priests.

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Gloria

Why would someone choose to work for a religious institution that does not accept and condones the gay lifestyle and gay marriage. Gays and Gay marriage are not accepted in most religious institutions including christian and islamic ones.
You sometimes have to face consequences for not abiding by the rules.

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Shoe on other foot

I would have more sympathy for this man if the stalinist LGBT zealots were not in the habit of destroying the livelihoods of anybody who criticizes or makes a joke the gay community doesn’t like.

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Gia

In recent years the Catholic church has told believers not to judge or discriminate against queers. There has been a big push by the pope to respect their lifestyle and welcome them or keep them in the Catholic faith. This is just another case of do as i say not as i do.

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Truth

Wow… the hypocrisy is very similar to the hijacked democratic party. Love is love… except if you’re a conservative or libertarian. Otherwise you’re accused of racism… meanwhile MLK always said racism is the racists problem.

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There is stupid then there is Fox stupid

Nimrod is a biblical figure mentioned in the Book of Genesis and Books of Chronicles. The son of Cush and therefore a great-grandson of Noah, Nimrod was described as a king in the land of Shinar.

Scott

The only thing that can save the continuing decline of the Catholic church is a radical remake. A complete rethink of its foundational beliefs and ultimate purpose. I think Pope Francis realizes this and attempted to begin those changes. But it’s ground to a halt and won’t move further. (Commenters: Don’t have a hissy fit. These are simply my opinions.)

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Maria

I notice that there is no reference to the contract Mr. LaBanca signed when he was employed. That contract obligated him to live in a manner consistent with Roman Catholic doctrine and practice.

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There is stupid then there is Fox Stupid

Hashtagger- Funny there is absolutely no mention of scripture and the preachings of Christ and Christ Ministries from the New Testament. The very rules and guidelines of the Catholic Church.
Romans 2:1Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. 2We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things. 3Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God? 4Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? 5But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.

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CNN causes brain rot

Paul condemned homosexual behavior in his letters. You are very selective in your outrage. Typical CNN viewer.

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Fox didn’t tell you all of what Paul said in Romans

Talk about brain rot – In the second chapter of Romans, the apostle Paul writes the following about judging others, “Therefore you are without excuse, O man, whoever you are who judge. For in that which you judge another, you condemn yourself. For you who judge practice the same things.

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There is stupid then there is Fox Stupid

When Fox cult and cult leaders are attacked default to “CNN”- You suffer pick and choose hypocrisy. Which isn’t really surprising. Matthew 7 :: NIV. “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?

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David B. Smith

NYS taxpayers give these religious schools millions of dollars every year. This teacher’s personal life is irrelevant. If churches want to receive funding from the state, they need to respect the freedoms that the state has granted its citizens and stop making moral judgments.

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Srinivas

That’s it, catholic schools will get cancelled now. I expect a long twitter apology from catholic schools saying they’re “not homophobic”, and all the mainstream media saying it’s unacceptable.
Also, LaBlanca to NYC Council!

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ABoondy

the catholic church is the most richest and powerful entity in the world. i need to buy more popcorn, because this will get funny very fast.

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There is stupid then there is Fox Stupid

Catholic Church invented cancel culture. Just look up the Catholic league. They canceled thousands of careers from Ingrid Bergman to Lenny Bruce. Turn off Fox Entertainment and pick up a history book.

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basta ya!

It was no secret that he was gay. He should not have been fired. Having said that, Van Bramer has a lot of nerve putting himself out as a Catholic since he supports abortion on demand.

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Don’t let people tell you the Bible just read it

Basra ya- The Bible doesn’t condemn abortion it actually says it’s a private matter to be handled by the woman’s patriarch. In the Old Testament there is a concoction given to a pregnant woman who has been unfaithful and it would abort the fetus of the man who is not the woman’s husband.

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Sue

I am sorry but its not just religious institutions. I worked in a public school as a teaching assistant and many parents would not want their child to receive state funded services with a particular gay male therapist working at our school. What was shocking is that the school would comply with their reasoning about him being too flamboyant.
Most of the parents would speak to our bilingual principle and the principle would simply transfer their child to another therapist.

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I don't believe a thing you wrote.

Forget the ‘principle’ (🙄 it’s PAL as in the principal is your pal), it’s not the teaching assistant (the DOE has no teaching assistants but paraprofessionals), or the fact that the shock that the school would comply.

Yes, they’re going to comply when a parent complains to the school! It beats fielding calls from the superintendent or even the mayor’s office!!!

If he was that flamboyant that people could read his sexual preference at face glance, then I’d be wary of having him be with young children too!

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Sue

You are mistaken. There is a difference between a teaching assistant and Paraprofessional both in what they can do in the classroom and salary. This is from the nyc DOE website: “The Teaching Assistant certificate authorizes individuals to provide direct instructional services to students under the general supervision of a certified teacher. There are four certificate levels issued: Level I, Level II, Level III, and Pre-Professional.” So would you have a problem with a parent not wanting an educator of a particular gender or race teaching their child? All schools including Religious schools should not get state funding if they choose not to comply with state laws. As far as gay rights what has changed in society is that victims refuse to stay silent. The above therapists was loved by the students. The parents had the problem with him, Today he would of made headlines if the public school gave into the parents request based on ignorance and hate.

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F off

It is outrageously offensive and, frankly, stupid to suggest that “flamboyant” gay men can not be trusted with young children.

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Wary does not equal to what you are accusing me of writing.

As a reminder…

If he was that flamboyant that people could read his sexual preference at face glance, then I’d be wary of having him be with young children.

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Once again

Because you think all flamboyant gay men are pedophiles, right? Which is exactly my point. Your words, not mine.

Tom

Nowadays many straight men are also very flamboyant. Being flamboyant does not mean what it used to. Western Queens is full of flamboyant looking and acting men. Times have changed.

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Karma

Plenty of democrats, conservatives and libertarians have been fired for less. It’s a good job market… he’ll be fine. Move on.

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Sal

But when priests are accused of sexually abusing children they transfer them to other churches.

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Nunya

They openly embrace organized crime figures and harbor pedophiles, but can’t put up with a gay music teacher.

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