Turns out, the Washington students were right.
Earlier this week, we shared with you the expanding story happening in Washington state. Students at the Kennedy Catholic High School in Burien, Washington staged a sit-in and school-wide walk out after two gay teachers, Paul Danforth and Michelle Beattie, “voluntarily resigned.” It was later revealed, by the fiancé of one of those former teachers, that the administration and Archdiocese of Seattle strong-armed the educators into leaving.
Paul Danforth, who is one of the two teachers, “is no longer employed specifically because he and I got engaged,” said fiancé Sean Nyberg to news sources.
Initially, the school’s administration and the Archdiocese of Seattle refused this claim. But now, the Arch Bishop the community and law experts are demanding the truth.
According to KUOW, attorney Shannon McMinimee is fighting for the teachers’ rights. According to the attorney, the Archdiocese “wanted [the teachers’] keys and wanted them to be gone.”
“Ultimately, this has been looming over them since November,” said McMinimee, who is representing Danforth and Beattie. “So while it may have felt very abrupt to the students and staff at Kennedy, Paul and Michelle had been going to work every day for three months, not knowing if they’d be fired the next day.”
She added that “it was made clear to them from the beginning that once they were honest about being engaged and gay, that their employment was no longer compatible with Kennedy Catholic.”
Possibly the most damning evidence comes from the words of Archbishop Paul Etienne. Etienne seems to almost confirm that the teachers were forced out.
“Those who teach in our schools are required to uphold our teaching in the classroom and to model it in their personal lives,” said Etienne in a written statement. “We recognize and support the right of each individual to make choices. We also understand that some choices have particular consequences for those who represent the church in an official capacity.”
That said, Mike Prato, the president of Kennedy Catholic, has a different story on the events. According to Prato, the school tried to offer different options to the teachers.
“I wanted to make sure [Beattie and Danforth] felt supported, and so we discussed several options including the possibility of finishing out the school year,” Prato wrote in a statement to KUOW.
“We gave them the option to select the date they wanted to resign, and they indicated they wished to resign prior to the winter break in February. We worked with them to arrive at a mutually agreeable transition plan and financial package to assure they would be supported in their transition.”
As for the two teachers at the center of this whole debacle, they have yet to release any official statement. While McMinimee assures that the confidentiality agreement has already been broken by the Archdiocese, and possibly Danforth’s fiancé, the teachers have decided to stay silent for the time being. That just means, however, that they are the only ones remaining silent in a situation that has quickly become a shouting matching from all sides.