VIDEO: Student-led rally at Kennedy Catholic High School calls for ‘change’ and for rehiring 2 gay teachers who suddenly ‘resigned’

‘Rehire! Rehire!’ That’s one of the chants heard at this afternoon’s student-led rally at Kennedy Catholic High School in Burien, four days after the school community was roiled by the announcement of two gay teachers’ sudden “voluntary resignation.” West Seattle families with kennedy students called our attention to the controversy over the weekend, and it has drawn national as well as regional attention.

Even before students walked out at 1 pm (video above) in support of teachers Paul Danforth and Michelle Beattie, South 140th Street in front of the school was filled with hundreds of people of all ages, many hoisting signs of support and rainbow flags.

The rally began with the Lord’s Prayer. From there, students took turns at the microphone, voicing both their support for the teachers, displeasure with school leadership and the Archdiocese of Seattle – believed to have masterminded the move – and their calls for change.

One adult took the microphone to huge cheers – Danforth’s fiancé Sean Nyberg.

He also spoke to reporters before the rally (video added).:

He said Danforth misses the students. And Nyberg said he wanted to be there to stress love and support for LGBTQ teens. Also present in support but not speaking, Burien Mayor Jimmy Matta and Councilmember Cydney Moore.

Multiple student speakers both demanded and promised change.”This wasn’t the first time (something like this has happened), but it will be the last,” said one. Another, describing herself as “heartbroken (and) disgusted,” asked, “Why can’t the Catholic Church get on the train? Change has been happening for thousands of years.” Students standing in support included soccer players – Beattie was their coach:

Another promised the rally was “just the beginning.” There was a demand for an all-school meeting so that the situation can be fully aired. One speaker said “the silence (of school leadership) is deafening.”

Though there were rumors of a counterprotest, none was seen, A King County Sheriff’s Office deputy told us about 10 people showed up but quickly departed. KCSO – with which Burien contracts for police services – had bicycle officers there, but the rally remained peaceful.

As 2 pm approached, the crowd started to dwindle; students told us they would remain outside the school until the official end of the day around 2:30, and continued sporadic chants, such as “We want change,” “I believe that love will win,” and “Gay rights are human rights.” Even the school’s namesake got a shout-out:

The school’s current enrollment is 851, according to a KCHS webpage that also notes, one FAQ later, that “Inclusiveness is a priority at Kennedy Catholic.”

-Report by Tracy Record, images by Patrick Sand, WSB co-publishers

35 Replies to "VIDEO: Student-led rally at Kennedy Catholic High School calls for 'change' and for rehiring 2 gay teachers who suddenly 'resigned'"

  • Dzag February 18, 2020 (5:33 pm)

    What a great display and peaceful protest. Sadly in order to be heard it comes down to money and enrollment. If a percentage of those parents began unenrolling their kids It would probably do more to get their attention. 

    • BTR February 19, 2020 (7:10 am)

      Not really.  For better or worse, the Catholic Church generally does not change its theology based on popular will.  Kennedy HS may shut down after boycotts and withdrawals, but the Archdiocese will not likely change its position.

  • Peeb February 18, 2020 (5:35 pm)

    This is fantastic and I hope it brings a much-needed change. If not, maybe parents can threaten to pull their kids out…nothing spells change faster than a massive drop in tuition revenues.

  • Leo Brodie February 18, 2020 (5:43 pm)

    Thanks for covering this event! It was inspiring to see the community support the students and teachers.

  • Cheryl Nelson February 18, 2020 (5:53 pm)

     This is my alma mater. I am proud of the students and other supporters. It is time for change.

    • West Seattle since 1979 February 18, 2020 (6:34 pm)

      This is wonderful to see. 

    • Dan Coles February 19, 2020 (3:13 pm)

      Every individual who attended the school should write the leadership and protest the move to fire the teachers. 

  • Scrappy February 18, 2020 (6:45 pm)

    I am so impressed by this incredibly moving event! The amount of support brings tears to my eyes. Thank you all for standing up for what is right. You have already created a change! 

  • Catholic LGBTQ+ February 18, 2020 (6:48 pm)

    As a Catholic, I find church teaching on LGBTQ+ lacking integrity to the gospel and human reasoning. If the teachers were forced to resign, it is an outrage. Were is love as a precept? Where is understanding of human psycholgy? It’s like Galileo all over again. So backwards in the face of a calling to be rooted in the Gospels. Is prayer and pulling donations the only way to teach the Church a lesson? 

    • Jake from State farm February 19, 2020 (12:20 am)

      You are exactly correct. I am pulling my payment to the “Annual Catholic Appeal”. I can not support them when they do something like this. (it makes you question your faith)God made the blind see, maybe he can do the same for the Seattle Archdiocese. I believe most/all of the teachers are in support for all of these activities. I also believe the Principal is in support but she can not say anything.The biggest gift God gave us was the ability to forgive. I honestly believe if they can correct this mistake, you will see another large out poring of forgiveness.

  • Bradley February 18, 2020 (8:48 pm)

    I thought this was the West Seattle Blog, not the Burien Blog?

    • WSB February 18, 2020 (11:36 pm)

      Kennedy is an honorary WS school, as we were reminded by the deluge of messages exhorting us to cover this story after it broke last weekend. We also include it on the list of local schools for which we provide weather closure/delay info. Lot of traveling for us today .. besides this trip south, we’re just back from the journey north to cover the WSHS boys’ playoff game vs. Garfield at Ingraham, (17 miles north, while the trip to Kennedy was only 6 miles south.) – TR

      • JFK Grad February 19, 2020 (7:02 am)

        Also, what may not be obvious, private schools have a much larger cachment area than public schools.  There is no Catholic high school in WS, so many West Seattlites attend Kennedy.

    • KBear February 19, 2020 (7:55 am)

      What’s your point, Bradley? Are you offended by news coverage from the surrounding community? Maybe you should cancel your subscription. 

      • wscommuter February 19, 2020 (7:57 pm)

        Kbear … for the win.  

  • judy February 19, 2020 (12:21 am)

    I am a very disgruntled catholic.  They are way too slow and blind to make any kind of change.Everyone deserves happiness !  Plus world wide cover up of sexual abuse by priests for 50 years!   Yet, they demand that catholics go to confession to confess our sins to a priest…..UGH.  WHEN YOU CAN NOT TRUST A PRIEST TO BE NEAR YOUR CHILD, ITS TIME FOR CHANGE in many areas !!  I lost all respect for the Archdiocese, priests, and the vatican. 

  • Richard Maloney February 19, 2020 (5:11 am)

    Leave the school. Simple as that. Let the old white male pedophiles own their school.

    Change will not occur as long as folks keep enabling.

  • Mark February 19, 2020 (6:26 am)

    “Who am I to judge?” – Pope Francis, 2013.

  • Chris K February 19, 2020 (7:07 am)

    I’m so proud of the community for stepping up and being heard.  I attended Catholic schools in the South from 1st through 12th grade in 80s-90s, and this showing of support for fair treatment of gays would have been unheard of.  

  • CommonSense February 19, 2020 (8:07 am)

    According to the Times article, the teachers signed a contract to adhere to the moral values of the Christian (Catholic) church. Since they apparently could not/would not, they voluntarily resigned. What is the controversy?  In regards to punishing the school, if you do not want your kids to be taught Christian morality as described within the Bible (God’s Word), why are you sending them to Kennedy?

    • Seriously? February 19, 2020 (9:27 am)

      Hahaha! “Christian Morality!?” That’s a good one – thanks for the belly laugh, I needed it! I fine example of an oxymoron . . .and yes, I am an ex-Catholic. Went through 9 agonizing years of Catholic indoctrination at the “school” I was forced to go to, learning all about how to hate everyone who’s not Catholic (like all other religions with a “bible-like book) After parole (sorry graduation) I wised up and said goodbye to religion in general and am much happier for it. The world would be much better if religion was erased from existence.

    • Dusty Bottoms February 19, 2020 (9:27 am)

      This is a tired argument that shows you have not made the effort to understand what is really going on here. This is about a fundamental disagreement within the Catholic community about the teachings of Jesus. Yes, the Bible talks about sins, but NOWHERE in the Bible does it suggest the archdiocese should (or even has the authority) to take actions like it did. In fact, in the gospels, the words of Jesus absolutely contradict these actions. These parents sent their kids to Kennedy to get a catholic education and the archdiocese is going against the , meaning it is not delivering on its promise to provide a catholic education, as these actions show. The problem is with the archdiocese. 

    • shipwrecked_and_comatose February 19, 2020 (9:43 am)

      Christian moral values are subject to interpretation out of necessity due to the fact that the bible, especially the old testament, is full of contradictions and anachronisms.  As in, right after the part where is says “Don’t be gay, m’Kay? Gay is bad…” the bible instructs you in no uncertain terms to KILL anyone in your family who even thinks about trying a different religion. Someone has to pick and choose what parts of the “literal word of God” are to be followed to the letter and which are like, “Ah, well, we don’t do that anymore.”

      • SC February 19, 2020 (11:18 am)

        Are any of you that are posting practicing Catholics?

    • WS Guy February 19, 2020 (10:09 am)

      Seems like common sense.

    • wscommuter February 19, 2020 (9:17 pm)

      I’m sorry, but I have to correct your misstatements.  These teachers did not voluntarily resign.  That claim is patently disingenuous.  That the Archdiocese and Kennedy are perpetrating that fiction on top of the terrible action they have taken to fire these committed teachers is precisely why so many Catholics like me are continually disgusted with the cover-up that goes along with bad acts.  I’m a Catholic all my life … I haven’t left the Church … the Church has left so many of us.  

  • 420Man February 19, 2020 (9:59 am)

    This is great to see, but sad that folks still use religion as a cover for their bigotry.

  • Elton February 19, 2020 (10:15 am)

    Not to be incendiary, but I’m a little confused as to what the intended result of this protest is. The posters call the school to “re-hire” the teachers, but they weren’t fired. The teachers resigned – though I understand that they resigned because of the contract they signed that they are choosing to violate. So what the protesters are saying is that they don’t want teachers to be held to the Catholic church’s teachings, correct? Or are they saying that they are ok with this policy (it is a Catholic private school, after all), but they think the Catholic Church itself is wrong? If the latter, then it sounds like their issue is with the entire institution of the Catholic Church. It’s a fair criticism to feel that the Catholic Church is misinterpreting biblical teaching, but I don’t see how picketing this school is going to effect the change they want – the Archdiocese is not an independent entity, it is a part of the Catholic Church.        

  • dhg February 19, 2020 (11:18 am)

    The resignations were not exactly voluntary, I think. I’m guessing the teachers were told to resign or face the stigma of being fired from their job.  The protest is an objection to prejudice and a demand that things change. Simple message.

  • Richard Wade February 19, 2020 (11:40 am)

    I think it’s a good bet that very few of those protesting kids will send their kids to a Catholic school. That’s just a few years away. Institutions that fail to retain the next generations of members go extinct. All the RCC’s problems are self-inflicted. 

  • Scubafrog February 19, 2020 (2:04 pm)

    I guess I don’t understand why the  Catholic Church protects their pedophile priests by the thousands.. but go out of their way to persecute gays.  Time after time after time we see the Catholic Church caught in another embarrassing scandal, wherein it’s been found out that *gulp* an Archbishop was a pedophile, who’d abused 100’s of boys this time.  And yet that’s just another day in Catholicism.  However we’re to endure the Church’s literal molestation, terrorism since its inception and bigotry on a massive scale, without protesting?  When our tax dollars give them subsidies close to $2 billion per year, which now makes the catholic church our problem.  Since Trump has effectively made religion a part of the state per his “freedom of religions acts”, it’s time to start governing these religions.  It’s time to start punishing adult marriages of children via relgion, polygamy, and mass-child rape by all of the churches found guilty through massive tariffs on the churches.  If we can subsidize them, we can also put tariffs on them.  I should also say, has anyone noticed Durkan’s silence on the Kennedy scandal?

  • Mj February 19, 2020 (5:58 pm)

    Unhappy with a program/administration simply vote with your feet and disenroll and hit them in the pocketbook!

  • Lincolnparklove February 20, 2020 (5:45 pm)

    People are imperfect. Point  it out and change what you can right. As far as contract . It used to be some kids  last resort was private school . Why do we end up always  end complaining   someone is doing something right to get these kids talking thank godess or   doguess.    Or dogma thanks.

  • John February 26, 2020 (10:47 pm)

    I’ve received most of my Catholicism from the Jesuits and was not surprised to read a thoughtful reflection on these events by Fr. John at St. Joseph: To Err on the Side of Compassion I encourage Catholics and non-Catholics to read and reflect as well.

    • sam-c February 27, 2020 (8:44 am)

      John, thank you for sharing the link.     I really appreciated the message in that reflection, and I hope that people continue to reflect and find ways to ensure all feel welcomed.

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