Future Leaders: Catholic students in Washington fight for their teachers

Over the weekend of February 15th, in Burien, Washington (twelve miles outside Seattle) Paul Danforth and Michelle Beattie abruptly left their teaching positions at Kennedy Catholic High School. The two teachers were not given the chance to speak with their students, but once word caught on about the real reasons behind the leave, students began mobilizing. 

King County Council Member Dave Upthegrove issued a statement claiming Danforth and Beattie were forced to resign due to their respective sexualities. Both teachers had recently become engaged to their individual partners. Sean Nyberg, Danforth’s fiancé spoke to the GLAAD Media Institute about the situation:“I’ve been constantly wondering whether my decision to propose to him made us all less happy and led to two beloved teachers losing their jobs”.

Students are hoping to hold the Seattle Archidiocese accountable for their actions against the teachers. Having two well known educators resign ultimately harms students more than anyone. Speaking with Seattle’s local KOMO News, senior Maggie Fine stated: "I want to know from the Archdiocese why it was so sudden? Why no one else had a say in this”

Situations like this are not uncommon. New Ways Ministry has tracked and compiled a list of employees at Catholic institutions who have been fired, forced to resign, had offers rescinded, or had their Jobs threatened because of LGBTQ Issues. 

On Tuesday, February 18th, about 150 students and parents rallied outside calling for the teachers’ reinstatement.“It is incredibly heartening to know that the students of Kennedy Catholic High School, the future leaders of the Catholic Church, have our backs and are committed to their values” said Nyberg about the student support. Check out some photos from the demonstration below:

Photo Credit: Sean Nyberg
Photo Credit: Sean Nyberg
Photo Credit: Sean Nyberg
Photo Credit: Sean Nyberg

The GLAAD Media Institute provides activist, spokesperson, and media engagement training for LGBTQ advocates and allied movements, as well as education for media professionals on fair, accurate, and inclusive coverage about the LGBTQ community. To learn more about working with the GLAAD Media Institute, visit glaad.org/institute, and click SIGN UP to see our schedule of upcoming courses and workshops.

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