SUNDAY AFTERNOON: Several West Seattle parents who send children to Kennedy Catholic High School in Burien have called our attention to a controversy that’s been embroiling that school’s community this weekend. Kennedy announced the sudden “voluntary” resignation of two teachers, both of whom, supporters say, are gay. Parents have organized a crowdfunding page for the teachers; Paul Danforth, an English teacher (who is also a Kennedy graduate, according to the school website), and Michelle Beattie, who taught health and coached soccer. The GoFundMe page set up to help them includes this introduction:
Two beloved and extraordinary teachers at Kennedy Catholic High School “voluntarily resigned” on February 13, 2020 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.
The school’s email announcement on Friday, forwarded to us by one of the parents who received it, says only:
Please see the following statement provided to us to share with our community.
“Two teachers, Paul Danforth and Michelle Beattie, have voluntarily resigned their positions at Kennedy Catholic High School. They are highly capable, gifted, and qualified teachers, who have served our community with dedication and humility. Their loss will be felt deeply by their students and the entire community. We are thankful to Paul and Michelle for their years of service.”
The statement ended by referring questions/comments to the Archdiocese of Seattle. Its downtown HQ is where some concerned Kennedy parents are planning a protest at 9 am Tuesday, according to posts on a Facebook group set up to show support for the teachers. Other posts mention plans for a student walkout and community show of support that day (school is out tomorrow for Presidents Day).
The teachers themselves have not yet commented publicly so far as we have seen; a post in the aforementioned Facebook group said they were at the school earlier today to collect their belongings.
Similar controversies have erupted elsewhere in the country. The news publication National Catholic Reporter published this overview of the issue last year. It included a citation of this stat: Two-thirds of U.S. Catholics now support same-sex marriage.
ADDED MONDAY NIGHT: Tuesday’s protests are planned for 9 am at the Archdiocese offices and 1 pm at the school, which sent parents another email today acknowledging those plans (as well as a student walkout) and warned that community members and parents won’t be allowed inside the school, but will be allowed to gather at 1 pm “in front of the building.” We’ll be among those there to cover it.