A Catholic high school is under fire for allegedly forcing two LGBTQ+ teachers to resign.
Bosses at John F Kennedy Catholic High School in Burien, Washington, issued a statement claiming teachers Paul Danforth and Michelle Beattie had ‘voluntarily resigned’ last week.
‘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,’ the statement read.
However, Danforth’s fiancé, Sean Nyberg, claims his partner didn’t quit and was in fact forced out after they got engaged.
Nyberg, who works as an attorney and a podcaster, released a statement detailing Danforth’s alleged forced resignation from the school where his father taught for 39 years.
On social media, he wrote:
After teaching there for over five years, with a stellar record, he is no longer employed specifically because he and I got engaged.
Nyberg proposed to Danforth, who taught English at the school, on November 1 last year during a trip to Disneyland with friends.
He went on to describe the proposal in great detail, alongside a series of photos showing the loved-up couple in their Mickey Mouse shirts that said ‘I Asked’ and ‘I Said Yes’.
‘We entered into an agreement to take our relationship to the next level and enjoy the emotional, spiritual, and legal benefits that marriage provides,’ Nyberg wrote. ‘However, in our case, Paul no longer is employed because I had asked him to marry me and he said yes.’
He went on to say that although teachers and officials working at the school are unable to publicly comment on the matter, he has no obligation to remain silent.
This is not only personally painful, it also harms their former students who looked up to them, families that don’t know how to explain this to their children, young LGBT students who will feel even more shame and guilt, and will weaken a community that seeks love and acceptance.
The post claims that like Danforth, his colleague Michelle Beattie was also forced to step down after becoming engaged to her partner, who is of the same sex.
After Nyberg’s post went public, the Archdiocese of Seattle issued a statement reaffirming the claims the teachers had voluntarily left, however King County council member David Upthegrove accused the school of ousting the pair for being gay.
Writing on Facebook, Upthegrove said:
This is a reminder of the blatant discrimination that continues to exist in our community against members of the LGBT community.
I hope everyone who values fairness and equality is as disgusted and outraged by the mean-spirited action of this anti-LGBT institution.
On Tuesday, February 18, a large group of students, parents and alumni stood in protest outside the Archdiocese of Seattle and at the school, holding up rainbow flags and homemade signs reading ‘Love Is Love’.
Other students staged sit-ins, while more plan to join protesters today.
A GoFundMe has been launched to help the two now unemployed teachers while they look for other work. More than $33,377 had been raised at the time of writing.
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