Catholic School Leader Who Told Just-Married Gay Administrator He Could Keep His Job if He Got Divorced Resigns

You all remember the student-led revolution that began at Eastside Catholic High School in Seattle, Washington last month after Assistant Principal Mark Zmuda was forced to resign after school officials confronted him about his sexual orientation and summer wedding:

Mark Zmuda (right) and husband Dana Jergens

That forced firing resulted in a massive student protest last month and an even bigger one next week.

The New York Times is covering the controversy in a front-page story today, and I was surprised by a couple of the updates.

First, remember the other teacher at the school who publicly announced her own same-sex engagement after Zmuda was fired? She still has a job!

“It’s great that they’re keeping me, but it’s a little confusing,” said the choreographer, Stephanie Merrow, 41, who taught the school’s students to dance in a 2012 production of “Footloose,” and is now doing the same for this year’s production of “Guys and Dolls.”

“I feel for them,” she said. “I think maybe a mistake was made, and now what do they do?”

It’s like the school might be learning from its mistake…

Second, the school’s president, Sister Mary E. Tracy, who had told Zmuda he could have his job back if only he would get divorced, resigned on Tuesday night:

After weeks of protest, she asked Julia Burns, an 18-year-old senior, to share with the public this comment: “I look forward to the day when no individual loses their job because they are married to a person of the same sex.” Sister Mary did not respond to requests for an interview.

On Tuesday, when the board announced Sister Mary’s resignation, it called the step “a difficult, but necessary decision so that a new leader can be brought in to ensure the entire Eastside Catholic community is moving forward on a positive path.”

Maybe even she realized she no longer wanted to work for such an awful institution.

There’s going to be a meeting today at which board members are going to have to deal with students, parents, and other donors — many of whom support Zmuda and oppose the Church-supported bigotry they’ve seen in action over the past two months. It’ll be uncomfortable for those board members — and that’s a great sign. I hope the crowd keeps their feet to the fire and makes them feel embarrassed for supporting Church doctrine instead of doing the right thing.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the chair of Foundation Beyond Belief and a high school math teacher in the suburbs of Chicago. He began writing the Friendly Atheist blog in 2006. His latest book is called The Young Atheist's Survival Guide.


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