BURIEN, Wash. – A walkout is scheduled Tuesday at Kennedy Catholic High School in Burien to protest the resignations of two teachers.
The Archdiocese of Seattle told Q13 News both employees left on their own and would not discuss the personnel matter, but critics and students say the pair were forced out of their positions because they are gay.
Sean Nyberg said his husband-to-be Paul Danforth was honest with school officials about becoming engaged to his same sex partner but was then forced to resign his position at the school.
In a partial statement to Q13 News, Nyberg said:
“This is not only personally painful, it also harms their former students who looked up to them, families that don’t know how to explain this to their children, young LGBT students who will feel even more shame and guilt and will weaken a community that seeks love and acceptance.”
The other teacher involved in the controversy, Michelle Beattie, is also no longer working at the school.
The controversy has spilled across the country and has made national news.
“The student response has been disbelief,” said student Angel John. “We just couldn’t fathom this happening at our school.”
Some students were dismayed to hear about the resignations and worry the instructors were told to leave due to their same-sex wedding engagements.
“We know we can’t change the whole belief in the Catholic Church,” said student Grace Ginther. “Our main goal is that make sure we can create safe environment for all the students and teachers, and they feel accepted and loved."
“Even if it’s done in the name of religion, firing someone from their job because they are lesbian for gay is no less harmful,” said King County Councilmember Dave Upthegrove.
“I think the legal mechanics of their departure is a matter semantics. I have no doubt that were they marrying the opposite sex, they’d be teaching there. So, it is clear to me that these teachers were forced out of their jobs simply because they’re lesbian and gay,” he said.
Classes at the high school were out of session Monday but come Tuesday, students are planning both a sit in and a protest.