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Students revolt against Catholic school that ‘forced out’ two gay teachers

Nick Duffy February 18, 2020
Gay teachers

Students are in revolt against Kennedy Catholic High School's leadership

Students at a private Catholic school in Washington state have vowed to hold protests after two teachers were allegedly forced to quit because they are gay.

Kennedy Catholic High School in Burien, Washington, has been accused of forcing out English teacher Paul Danforth and football coach Michelle Beattie because they are both in same-sex relationships.

The school insists that the teachers “voluntarily resigned their positions”, but Danforth’s fiancé Sean Nyberg has said that the teacher was “no longer employed specifically because he and I got engaged”.

He told local outlet KING5: “[We hoped] to take our relationship to the next level and enjoy the emotional, spiritual, and legal benefits that marriage provides. However, in our case, Paul no longer is employed because I had asked him to marry me and he said yes.”

Nyberg said that Beattie, who is yet to publicly comment, was also forced out because of a same-sex relationship.

Kids protest school for ‘forcing out’ gay teachers.

The spat has sparked a revolt at the Catholic school, with students hoisting a Pride flag on campus over the weekend – before it was swiftly removed.

CBS reports that kids are now planning walkouts and sit-ins to show their anger.

Kennedy senior Griffin Terry, 17, told CBS:  “It just doesn’t make me feel like I can walk back in that school and then receive my diploma from them. It makes me feel really dirty.”

Audrey Porter, also a senior, told KOMO: “It was heart wrenching… I think it’s just that time that we know it’s right and we know we have to stand up and do something.”

Jennifer Southwell, parent to a child at the school, added: “Everybody is supportive of these teachers and supportive of the kids and everybody wants to make a change.”

Meanwhile, a GoFundMe page to provide support for the two teachers has received $31,000 in donations.

English teacher Paul Danforth and football coach Michelle Beattie were allegedly forced to leave Kennedy Catholic High School
English teacher Paul Danforth and football coach Michelle Beattie were allegedly forced to leave Kennedy Catholic High School

It states: “Two beloved and extraordinary teachers at Kennedy Catholic High School ‘voluntarily resigned’ because of their sexual orientation and desire to live authentically (and legally) married to their partners.

“In addition to the sadness felt by their community of supporters, Paul and Michelle are both now without jobs or incomes. In the middle of a school year it will be difficult for either of them to find employment immediately.

“No doubt these two will find positions for the 2020-2021 school year, but until then, anything we can do to help ease their financial burden as they face several months without a pay check will be helpful.”

Church’s homophobia ‘is longstanding and harmful’.

Local politicians have also spoken out.

King County Council member, Joe McDermott wrote: “By forcing the resignations of two teachers over their sexual orientation, Kennedy Catholic and the Archdiocese of Seattle tell young people – especially LGBTQ students at Kennedy – is that being LGBTQ is wrong.”

He added: “[The church’s] homophobia is longstanding and always harmful. This is yet another example of the doctrine in practice today.

“And to be even more clear – to LGBTQ youth everywhere – you are valuable! You are loved! And you will thrive in this world!”

More: Catholic, Kennedy Catholic High School, Paul Danforth, Washington

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