Most news about “kids these days” has me shaking my fist in the air in anger, which makes this story about Sammamish, Washington, middle and high school students all the sweeter.
According to The New York Times, last month Eastside Catholic vice principal Mark Zmuda (called Mr. Z by students) resigned from his position after his employers became aware that he was gay and married to a man. Same-sex marriage has been legal in Washington State since January 2013.
Like other gays and lesbians employed by Catholic schools, Mr. Z had signed a contract claiming to follow church teachings. (Such contracts are also why unmarried pregnant women resign from Catholic schools.) Some Catholic schools are happy to look the other way if an employee is gay or lesbian, so long as the closet door stays firmly shut. Eastside Catholic’s president allegedly even suggested that Mr. Z could keep his job if he got divorced from his husband. Correct me if I’m wrong, but don’t Catholics frown upon divorce as well?
Students and some of their parents didn’t care that Mr. Z is gay. Kids held a sit-in following his ouster, protested outside of City Hall and a Seahawks game, and have posted banners in support of their ex-vice principal. They collected 21,000 signatures from across the country to hand-deliver to the Archdiocese of Seattle. The Times reports they’ve even tried to use Twitter to get the Pope’s attention.
In the weeks since Mr. Z resigned, the chairman of the school’s board and the president (the one who allegedly suggested he get a divorce) have also stepped down. Parents, donors and applicants to the private school are also allegedly rethinking their interest in supporting the school.
Last week, the school’s board of trustees announced it would not be rehiring Mr. Z. In a statement following the decision, the school predictably tried to spin the situation as if it were solely a matter of following his employment agreement.
Amidst all the bigotry, it’s still heartening to see how students and their parents have supported their ousted gay vice principal.
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