Seattle, you have a problem.
Former Eastside Catholic Vice-Principal and Coach Mark Zmuda is now affectionately known as “Mr. Z”. Mark Zmuda was fired last week for marrying his partner this summer which has touched off a lightning rod situation of equality vs. church doctrine. Students of East Catholic have rallied for Zmuda’s return with sit ins and protests effectively shutting down the school early for Christmas break.
Saturday, students showed up for another rally outside the school and vowed that even when they start school again Jan. 6th they will continue until the situation changes. With over 75% of the students supporting efforts, it is likely that their goal of their message being heard will happen even if it again shuts down the school.
Eastside Catholic has a growing list of supporting students from other high schools including Seattle Prep, Overlake, Bishop Blanchet, Holy Names and O’Dea.
Annette who is in the 10th grade at Eastside Catholic was at the rally because she knows Mark Zmuda and how helpful he has been to her brother – not only in his schoolwork but as a person gaining confidence in the last three months. Mark Zmuda’s support has had such an impact on her family that Annette mentioned if there is not a change she has already sat down with her parents and discussed the possibility of transferring to the nearby Public school sometime between the second semester and next year.
Jeanne Tate, owner of Neuman her yorkshire terrier has a sister who was an alumni of Eastside Catholic in ’98. Jeanne stated “love is what matters, we can’t cherry pick what Catholic rules we follow. Mr. Zmuda did nothing wrong and we stand behind him. Showing this kind of discrimination is not appropriate for a Christian school…What they have done is alienate the church.” Jeanne is impressed with the students who have shown maturity and that they believe they can change the world.
When asked if she had a child currently enrolled at Eastside Catholic Jeanne stated “I would pull her out”. “Eastside Catholic teaches their students about social justice but they need to practice what they have been teaching”.
The notion expressed above that “Mr. Zmuda did nothing wrong” basically reveals the root of the problem here—along with a fundamental misunderstanding of Catholic teaching.
Did Mr. Z. honestly not know what he was doing? Did he not realize that he was publicly going against Church teaching and, as a result, violating the terms of his employment? Did he think they’d just give him a pass?
And how did the school think people would react to this news? This isn’t the first place this has happened. Didn’t they anticipate exactly this kind of backlash?