EMPORIA (KSNT) – An Emporia music teacher was let go from her job after authorities at the school learned she had organized a “Vote No” rally on the steps of the William Lyndsay White Civic Auditorium in July.
Alexis Lowder, a music teacher at Sacred Heart of Jesus, Catholic Church & School, was told her, “…words and actions while organizing and participating in a ‘Vote No’ rally are inconsistent with the teachings of the Catholic Church.” With that, Lowder said the school terminated her employment.
Lowder, a 2018 Emporia State University graduate had moved to Emporia to be closer to her husband’s family after being laid off from her teaching position at a college in Independence at the start of the pandemic.
After moving to Emporia, Lowder learned Sacred Heart had been looking for a music teacher, and although she was tentative, she applied and was hired by the elementary school. Lowder, who was raised Catholic but is no longer practicing and hasn’t been for nearly eight years, said she was asked about her faith during the hiring process.
“They did ask about my faith, but it was never an issue,” Lowder said.
Although Lowder feared retribution from Sacred Heart, she said she felt like she had to do something.
“It was such a pressing issue the day the Supreme Court issued the decision, I knew I couldn’t just lay in bed,” Lowder said. “I had the ability to bring people together.”
On July 9, Lowder led a rally with approximately 200 people who gathered to rally for abortion rights. Lowder confesses she was once on the other side of the issue, but never identified with the pro-life movement.
“You can’t be pro-life and be pro-death penalty,” Lowder said. “All lives are important.”
Lowder said over time her opinions have evolved, it didn’t happen overnight. She said she went through the misinformation and decided she doesn’t believe she has the right to decide for someone else.
“I had preconceived ideas of who gets an abortion,” Lowder said. “What if someone is raped or abused by a relative, they shouldn’t be forced to have a baby, it’s a personal decision.”
Lowder said she started to develop a stronger sense of empathy. “Catholic women are getting abortions at the same rate as other women,” Lowder said.
The former music teacher said she is not sure what her next move will be, and whether she will seek legal action.
“I haven’t decided whether to take legal action,” Lowder said. “But, they are definitely in the wrong.”
Lowder does not believe employers have the right to tell employees what they can do when they are not at work.
“My politics outside school is not their business,” Lowder said. “I think this is what they want. We’re seeing so many conservative attacks on teachers.”
When contacted by 27 News Sacred Heart School said they would not comment.
“Out of respect for Ms Lowder’s privacy we are not commenting on this private personnel matter,” principal Ali Geitz said.
Lowder said the students at Sacred Heart were very fun, and she enjoyed teaching but is now on the last leg of a Ph.D. program.
“My dream would be to teach at the college level, musicology,” Lowder said.
On Aug. 2, Kansan voters roundly defeated 59% to 41% a constitutional amendment on abortion rights. Had it passed, the Kansas legislature could have banned abortion rights.