After protests, Catholic high school backtracks and again offers job to coach in same-sex marriage

After protests, Catholic high school backtracks and again offers job to coach in same-sex marriage

The nation has its eyes on teachers, staff, and parents of school-aged children as many classrooms reopen to in-person learning amid the pandemic. We know teachers have had a world of stress to deal with, ranging from parents infuriated over mask requirements to worry about becoming ill (or, conversely, bringing the virus to school) themselves. National media has covered a disturbing trend about teachers losing their jobs in recent months, and it has nothing to do with the virus. 

As Daily Kos has covered, several teachers are saying they’ve either been fired or pushed to resign because of their sexual orientation or support of LGBTQ+ folks. Daily Kos covered, for instance, the volleyball coach who says he was forced to resign because he is gay, the Missouri teacher who resigned after the school district made him remove a Pride flag from his classroom and the teacher who was made to leave the classroom after jokingly encouraging a student to pledge allegiance to a Pride flag. Most recently, supporters of Amanda Kammes say her new job as a lacrosse coach was rescinded after she listed her wife as her emergency contact on paperwork. As of Tuesday morning, the Chicago Tribune reports that the school has reoffered Kammes the job. Let’s look at how we got here. 

As reported by local outlet CBS 2, Kammes was hired to join Benet Academy, a Catholic high school of about 1,5000 students in the suburbs of Chicago, Illinois, as a varsity coach for girls lacrosse. Thousands of current and former students have signed a petition urging the school to reinstate Kammes, who is actually an alumna of the school herself.

“We are ashamed of your narrow interpretation of Christian morality,” the petition reads in part. In addition to the petition, dozens of supporters protested outside the school on Monday, Sept. 20, which included handing out rainbow masks to classmates. 

“By rejecting a talented potential staff member on the basis of whom she loves,” the petition reads. “You have utterly failed to uphold the principles of dignity and charity that you purport to practice as a Christian institution.”

“This former student, who is interested in coming back and supporting her school–she was not valuable, or not worthy of recognition and celebration, because of who she loves,” Tim Jacklich, who graduated from the school in 2016, told CBS 2, adding that Kammes was not even hired to teach religion. 

Jacklich is not the only alumnae speaking out in defense of Kammes. Comedian Cameron Esposito, who graduated from the high school in 2000, tweeted about the situation, which likely helped the incident gain national attention.

Oh my good lord My high school, Benet Academy in Lisle, IL denied employment to a coach bc she listed her wife on her application She is highly qualified Students & alums are protesting

— Cameron Esposito (@cameronesposito) September 20, 2021

“One hundred percent it was pulled because who she was married to,” Colleen Savell, assistant lacrosse coach for the school, told the outlet in reference to why she believes Kammes’ job offer was rescinded.

“I want the girls and the students at Benet to know that this is not OK,” Savell, who has worked at the school for six years, added. “This is not the example that we should be setting for the students here.” She noted that she wants to do what is right and if doing the right thing means she loses her job, she’ll fight it.

In speaking to the Chicago Sun-Times, Savell stressed that she cares about her students and that she wants to see them have a positive experience. “High school is such a moldable time in your life and it’s such a fragile time in your life,” she told the paper. “And I want these girls and anybody at Benet to feel supportive.”

In a statement to The Chicago Tribune, a spokesperson for the school initially said in part, “Benet Academy respects the dignity of all human beings to follow their conscience and to live lives of their choosing.” The statement went on to claim that, as a Catholic school, “we employ individuals whose lives manifest the essential teachings of the Church in order to provide the education and faith formation of the young people entrusted to our care.”

As of Tuesday morning, the school has reoffered Kammes the job—and according to the school, she has accepted the offer. The Tribune reports that the school board met on Monday and determined Kammes was the right candidate based on her background and experience.

The school’s statement said in part that the meeting involved an “honest and heartfelt discussion” on the “complex issue,” and that, “Going forward we will look for opportunities for dialogue in our community about how we remain true to our Catholic mission while meeting people where they are in their personal journey through life. For now, we hope that this is the first step in healing the Benet community.”

You can check out interviews with Savell and Jacklich below.

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