Dozens Protest Catholic School for Firing ‘Married’ Gay Vice Principal

Dozens Protest Catholic School for Firing ‘Married’ Gay Vice Principal December 21, 2013

According to news stories, Eastside Catholic High School in Seattle dismissed its vice principal because he was a gay man, ‘married’ to another gay man. This action resulted in what news stories have characterized as a walk-out by students of the school.

I looked on the school’s website and found that tuition at this school is almost $19,000/year. The motto, Discover You, is emblazoned on the web site. That motto would seem to fit in with the overall sense of entitlement that goes with privileged kids, whose parents pay high tuition to buy them an education that shapes them to fit into a narcissistic secular world.

It also points to a failed Catholic school. Based on the behavior of its students, this school appears to have failed in what most people think is the real mission of a Catholic school, which is raising up young people who can stand for the faith.

We live in a post Christian America and we need Catholic schools to equip our young people to follow Christ in a hostile world. From the behavior of these students, I would guess that this school has been equipping young people to follow the world within the Church. It would appear that it has succeeded so well that their first loyalty is not to the Church, but to the trendy morality of the larger culture. That equals a failed Catholic school in my books.

This post ties in rather nicely with an earlier one about the Vatican’s call for Catholic schools to maintain their Christian identity. Based solely on the behavior of its students, along with photos and verbiage on its website, I’m guessing that Eastside Catholic has fallen rather short of this. Their website portrays a glitzy school with high tuition and white bread students who are being prepared to fit in with the secularized Christian-bashing post Christian larger society.

I wonder if any of these students at this school are being prepared to follow Christ and be the leaven that actually converts the world?

The students who have walked out should be dismissed from the school. If that means temporarily closing the school, or maybe even lowering the tuition a bit so that a less entitled group of young people can study there, so be it.


According to Eastside Catholic attorney and spokesperson Mike Patterson, Mark Zmuda has violated a signed contract that states he would follow the official teachings of the church. Patterson maintains that gay marriage is against the Magisterium of the Catholic Church.

After meeting with Patterson, Zmuda resigned his position – for personal reasons – with the school, effective Friday, Dece. 20, 2013.

Zmuda was a good administrator says Patterson, and they plan to give him a good reference.

Students are outraged, and have protested the resignation by walking out of school on Thursday.

“We are standing outside the school protesting for equality in the church, and equality everywhere,” high school senior Alex Kovar said.

The students say Zmuda is a great man and a great faculty member.

“We’re all here because we love him and we want to feel like we can accept people for who they are here at Eastside, and I think by firing him because he’s gay is not portraying that message,” Eastside Catholic senior Julia Troy said.

The students say it is widely known that Zmuda is gay, and they aren’t sure why the school has decided to act now.
“What a lot of us are questioning is why it took them this long to decide to fire him, because this man has, and continues to make a really big impact on our school,” Troy added.

All grade levels are reflected as dozens of students currently stand outside the school, and voice support for Zmuda.

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85 responses to “Dozens Protest Catholic School for Firing ‘Married’ Gay Vice Principal”

  1. Having lived in Puget Sound for the better part of 20yrs, this is not surprising, even if aggravating (both that a “Catholic” school unnecessarily hired someone openly gay in the first place, and that the kids somehow don’t get it when they finally “draw a line”). And I’m pretty sure this isn’t just a Catholic school problem, either–much of the “churched” in that area are extremely secular in their social attitudes and, other than throwing a little “Jesus” into their weekends and “faith” into their Facebook posts, live the same lives, partake of the same media, value the same things, and support the same causes as the good pagans, agnostics and atheists around them (I’m not being sarcastic, many non-Christians are very nice folks, as long as you don’t openly hold a conservative/religious view). In moving to the SW, I’ve found a culture that is about like the NW of 10-15yrs ago. When I see the worldliness and compromise here, it sets my teeth on edge, because I’ve seen this before and I know where this is going, only with national politics forcing an acceleration to the rot. 🙁
    As for this school, I agree, they need to quit pandering to the sensibilities of the affluent of the world. If not, they should openly abandon calling themselves Catholic and be the secular school they are. Like the rest of us whom such choices are being forced upon, it’s becoming time to live the walk or stop the talk.

  2. This is not some failure of orthodoxy or formation on the part of some school. It is a sea change in our society’s understanding of homosexuality. That viewpoint is now the majority in our larger society and even within American and Western Catholicism. In the younger generations now in school, there is virtually zero buy-in to the Church’s position on gays and gay marriage, and that’s not going to change in any of our lifetimes. I’m not saying the Church should change its views to accommodate them, but if Catholic schools are going to require orthodoxy of belief among students and faculty and parents on this point, the Catholic school model is going to become absolutely economically unfeasible outside of a few tiny enclaves or boarding schools that may consolidate highly conservative elements from around the country or one region.

  3. Guess my question is—did the school know he was gay before they hired him? Did they know he was married to another man before they hired him OR did all this come to light after his hiring? If he was “out” before he was hired, why did they hire him? It was known even before my interview with the principal of the Catholic elementary school I taught in for 10 years, that I was not Catholic. I told the principal when she called me for an interview and she had no problem with it. I had the teaching qualifications they were looking for. Guess if the school was a true Catholic school, I wouldn’t have been hired in 1993 or now. (It is a very true Catholic school, I know from experience). No one was worried about me being non-Cathoic and it was no secret. That is why I was wondering what the principal knew before he hired that gentleman. As for the children and their protest? I can see their side and I can see the school’s side. They feel it was an injustice to hire then “fire” a man just because of his sexual orientation and the school (all of a sudden?) decided to follow the Church’s teachings. The teaching being—it’s OK to be gay, just don’t act on it by marrying?

  4. I agree Ken. Part of the reason is that there are openly gay people all over TV. They aren’t on TV because they are gay, but that they just happen to be gay. Children see this every day.

    From what I saw on TV of the protest, if the school dismissed all the students that left class, they would be left with 10 students. Maybe that’s okay.

    There isn’t any way we could afford to send our kids to that school without cutting out things like the mortgage and monthly food bill.

  5. Did he marry after he was hired? If so, guess he violated the contract he signed agreeing to follow the teachings of the Catholic church. . Apparently when I was hired, It wasn’t necessary to sign a contract that stated that, though I would have done so if asked.

  6. Many people can’t home school their children—they have to go to work in order to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table, so entrust their children to either public schools or religious schools. Many Catholic schools are closing due to lack of students because of tuition rates. Also, many parents have no desire to home school. I know I didn’t. With my daughter’s personality, it wouldn’t have worked anyhow! 🙂

  7. If the schools continue to indoctrinate their students in the manner that seems to have been happening, I don’t think it will be a a choice if parents want to protect their children. Whether or not they want to is beside the point. If you are a parent, you do what you have to in order to protect and take care of your child.

  8. $19,000 per year? Wow, that’s very pricey. I just looked up the catholic school in my neighborhood that I want to send my son to and it’s $4670 per year. Not including a whole bunch of fees. Still that’s one fourth the cost. And I live in New York City, well, one of the outerboroughs.

  9. Rebecca, are you saying that all parents have a choice whether to home school or not, even though they both need to work to provide the home and food for the family? I’m not talking about fancy homes or neighborhoods, but the majority of folks who live from paycheck to paycheck.Some of those folks hold more than on job. Not getting into single parents who are the only providers. Also I expect there are parents who themselves are not educated enough to be able to home school. IMO, most children will, at the end of their educations, whether home educated, public educated or private educated thru high school, will be making up their own minds as to what they think of their world. Not all children no matter what their educational background will be successful in their lives.

  10. I think most people do have a choice. They’re just making the wrong ones. We certainly lived paycheck to paycheck. It was tough. But it can be done. What should parents do for their children’s futures and lives? If the schools are indoctrinating children in this sort of stuff, then I think it’s that serious. I know that some parents can’t homeschool themselves, but there are other ways to do it. They can go together and hire a tutor, as a for-instance. The point is that if the schools are doing the things I’ve been seeing, they are no longer a safe and wholesome environment for children and a parent’s first job is t protect their child.

    As for these trendy richies at the school in this post, I don’t think money or living paycheck to paycheck is the issue. I think spiritual poverty may come closer to problem.

  11. Manny, based on the things like this that I keep reading, you and your wife are going to have to birddog that Church school as closely as you would a public school.

  12. My husband and I live paycheck to paycheck – he teaches at a Catholic school and I work for a non-profit. In order to keep our kids in Catholic school, I work a second job for the diocesan newspaper. But our schools are very affordable. I pay $130 a month to keep my son in Catholic high school and $60 a month for my two daughters to attend our parish elementary school. The schools are EXTREMELY orthodox, but so is the diocese – Diocese of Lincoln – where our bishops in succession have always been committed to making Catholic education affordable. My husband doesn’t make much – he would actually make more as a substitute for public school – but it’s important to provide quality education with a Catholic world view at an affordable cost. Tuition at his school is actually $0. How many dioceses have a free Catholic school for parents who can’t afford ANY tuition?

  13. “birddog”?? I don’t speak Oklahoma…lol. I’m from NY. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a birddog. What does that mean? Is there a translator in the house. 😛

  14. hummmpppphhhhh … illiterate yankees

    birddog, as in track ’em down and flush ’em out. never take your eyes off.

  15. Many will, no doubt, but I think it will take much more than that if parents are set on keeping their kids “uncontaminated” by prevailing social norms. A child born today, by the time they reach school age, will never know a world where gay marriage is not the law of the land and where gay people and families are not part of the normal social fabric. Homeschooling cannot protect kids from that reality, only delay their exposure to it. Maintaining beliefs radically in opposition to mainstream will require a much more comprehensive and lifelong isolation from the world. The sort of insularism practiced by old-order Amish and Hassidic Jews. Children’s experience, from school, to socializing to their work earning a living in later years, will have to be protected in almost hermetically sealed envornments which shun outside interaction.

  16. I’m from Italy and I knew the expression – act like a hunting dog after a partridge. I don’t think it’s actually Okie so much as old-fashioned; older New Yorkers must have known it, since I found it in American comics, and nearly all American comics are historically made in New York City.

  17. Dear Rebecca Hamilton, you are a feces stain, please choke and decease without delay so the world would become a better place.

  18. It’s the city thing, Rebecca, plenty of yankees like to hunt. 😉 Manny just needs some good redneck friends to expand his horizons. 😉 (I’m teasing, Manny… I come from a redneck family!)

  19. Then he did violate his contract. I have no problem with SS marriage, however he knew that in his current position, it wasn’t “allowed”. Perhaps he should have considered a position in a different environment without those restrictions when he decided to marry. If I remember without looking again at the article, he had been doing his job well at the school, and there would be/has been a good reference given for future employment. That is good.

  20. Religion – holding humanity hostage throughout the ages.

    All these kids did is use their freedom of speech to point out a wrong. If they get dismissed for this I would certainly hope for one huge class action lawsuit to slap the holier-than-though catholic administration down a few rungs. It isn’t like the catholic church doesn’t know how to make huge payoffs.

    What a corrupt pile of trash.

  21. Oh look… hateful blogger gets rid of any comments that differ from her hateful opinion. Doesn’t want discussion. Typical.

  22. So far as know, there is no legal right to attend a rich-kids private school. However, given the entitlement of these kids, you’re probably right that they would resort to some such suit.

  23. In truth, I didn’t know that I’d been zeroed again by one of Patheos’ atheist bloggers for having the temerity to have an opinion that differs from his.

    I’ve been doing other things while you were spitting out your commentary and was unaware that Public Catholic had once again been deluged with atheist commenters attempting to carry the attack from the atheist blogger forward onto this blog.

    I’m not going to allow that.

  24. Don’t you just love atheists and their intellectual approach to things? These comments alone prove that “reason” is their metier.

  25. No matter how vehement your disagreement with Rebecca Hamilton on this issue (and I too disagree *entirely* with her), that sort of language is unacceptable.

  26. I’d ask that you not judge the whole by the worst of us; I opt not to judge all Catholics by the worst of you. (I’d argue that atheists are even more varied, as we don’t have a text that we’re all in agreement holds truth and are bound to.)

  27. Don’t you just love Catholics and their intellectual approach to things. Name calling and hypocrisy, show thyself!

  28. As an atheist I apologize for the comment above. This truly does not represent all of us. Even though I disagree with the opinion in your article, I still respect you as a human being.

  29. Well, that’s one of these “freedom of speech” moments fundies just love. Apparently, you can write long hateful articles and as long as you strategically place some Jesus in them you’re rightful and just, but the fact that more reserved and factual comments pointing out why ms Hamilton’s verbal diarrhea is wrong were censored just prove she’s a giant turd.

  30. You cannot flaunt the teachings of the church and expect to keep your job, especially after signing a contract to uphold those. They are being very charitable after being betrayed by offering good references . My high school is close to that tuition now. My parents wanted to provide a good education and my dad being a doctor had the means. I don’t have such means so my kids go to public school and they are doing wonderful! The one catholic school in our small town has a huge heroin and teen pregnancy problem. I know amazing home school folks and a few poor ones who are doing it for less noble reasons. I agree with most of Rebecca’s points and think parents should birdog any school choice they make.

  31. Blah, blah, yada, yada. I wrote two lines of text about a living fossil and i’m “hateful” and you wrote an entire article about how you consider gay people as second class citizens and how everyone trying to support their rights should be punished. Who’s the least reasonnable one?

    I’m not expecting any of my comments to be published, as it seems you can’t stand people who disagree with you.

  32. lol. not all opinions are equally valid.

    virulent anti-gay bigots like you deserve negative comments, just as racists, anti-semites, or sexists do.

    65% of american catholics and 80% of american jews support same-sex marriage.

    you’ve simply made the very destructive life-style choice of following an anti-gay version of the judeo-christian tradition.

    we’re just pointing reality out to you, since you seem to be unable to do that for yourself.

    love the anti-gay catholic, but hate her anti-gay version of catholicism.

  33. You mean, you are not going to allow people with different opinion than yours?

    Coward, can’t believe people actually voted for you at some point.

  34. Thank you Ryan. This comment may not represent all atheists, but it certainly seems to represent atheists who comment online.

  35. I want to thank the atheist commenters who apologized for this comment.

    I also want to emphasize that I routinely receive numerous comments of similar quality from the atheist blogs anytime one of the bloggers there goes off on me.

  36. Count me in as one of those who read this post because it was linked on the Friendly Atheist blog.

    I don’t like it when religious people say ugly and hurtful things about the personal motivations of atheists, so I’m not going to engage in the reverse of that.

    I respect your right to your opinion. However, as human being it truly pains me to see disregard for the reality that gay people live held up as an example of a loving faith in practice, including firing a well-respected teacher. The more that Christian denominations insist on going down this path, the more they’re going to alienate people who know gay people and cannot relate to the anti-homosexual religious dogma being peddled as “righteous.”

  37. I decided to look up the Catholic high school yearly tuition for the state I used to live in, RI. Since RI is very small, the entire list of Catholic schools wasn’t hard to find. The range starts at $9,200 and goes to $12,750. That school,however, added $300 for books and “fees”. Those were the 2012-2013 prices, so I’m sure they will go up next year. The most expensive one was a high school (academy) that charges $34,000 for day students and $50,000 for boarding students. They also have an elementary school, but I didn’t look up their tuition for that! When I was teaching in the Catholic elementary school, having retired in 2005, it was one of the least expensive elementary schools at the time. Many folks have to count their pennies to send their kids to a Catholic school. The one little nun (she was 5 feet tall and in her late 70’s) that was still teaching when I was teaching had attended the school we were in. She was in the first graduating class from that school. She said there was no tuition when she was there and the kids went home for lunch, then walked back. I think the only requirement was that you belonged to the parish. All the teachers were nuns. Now? there is still 1 nun teaching in my former school.

  38. While on one hand, I could see why you would assume rich kids whose parents pay $19k in tuition were entitled, that’s a poor assessment. I went to a (albeit secular) private school with similar rates (albeit higher). A major part of that reason was because the school valued its students, and the high rates paid by the wealthiest allowed for the scholarships for those with equal academic talent, but fewer means. Many students knew where their tuition went (I was on a scholarship), and they are still sensible, caring people who work hard for themselves and others. One recently won a major national service award, even. He was captain of our tennis team. Having experience with “rich kids” (some of the richest in the world, at least at the time), I can tell you, you are horribly mistaken in your assumptions about these students.

  39. It’s a pretty good representation of many — not all — of the comments in my trash pile. However, if we’re going to consider fairness and eschew personal attacks here, you might do better to go back to your friends on the atheist blogs and make an appeal for it there. I have never and will never try to justify my positions by launching personal attacks against other people, and that is basically all I see coming from there.

  40. None of this has anything at all to do with the subject of the post, which is the failure of this school to live up to its call as a Catholic institution. It also has nothing to do with the simple fact that students who walk out of class are always subject to dismissal. This is a rich-kids private school (I consider that an embarrassment to the Church, btw) and any student there is subject to dismissal.

    Also, I’m way past tired of people coming on this blog after being incited by a personal attack on me from one of the atheist blogs and dumping dozens of hateful comments and then following that up with a bunch of whiny complaints about the supposedly awful things that I say about them. Where are the awful things? Name one atheist I have attacked personally. One. You won’t be able to do it because I haven’t done that. I’m not even doing it now.

    I do not use this blog to launch personal attacks against individuals and I do not allow the commenters here to do that, either. I have no respect — zero, zip, zilch — for those who do things like this. I tend to assume that their ideas are as trashy and bogus as their tactics.

    If you can’t form a basis for your beliefs without using ad hominem attacks on people you don’t even know to justify them, then perhaps you should examine those beliefs.

  41. Your seriously need to get a life. Comments such as yours only represents the worst of non-believers. One can disagree with someone without being rude. A point isn’t made better by putting down the person you disagree with. I’m fortunate that I know many who call themselves atheists but they would never stoop to the level of your comments because they didn’t agree with a certain view or belief. Have a civil day. 🙂

  42. I was going to comment on your rudeness again, but I’ll just stay with what I wrote above. Unbelievable.

  43. I try to remain as anonymous as I can so I can be as honest in my opinions as possible. But I assure you, it’s a well-recognized school. When I got to my top-tier university, I was shocked at how ill-prepared the other students were, compared to my own educational experience. Because of my high school, I was a gigantic fish in a big pond. I couldn’t be happier with my education.

  44. I am rude, to you, i’m not hiding that fact behind censorship or selective moderation. You do not deserve respect as a person, nothing wrong in pointing that out.

  45. Thank you! My other comment (the one I made which is a reaction to your actual post rather than to actual commenters) doesn’t seem to have made it through the mod queue yet. I look forward to seeing it on the blog.

  46. Emily, I don’t remember another comment from you. It may have been deleted, or it may have gone to spam, or, as occasionally happens, it may not have gotten through.

  47. When you get people commenting online, you often get the loud, vocal obnoxious minority drowning out the sensible majority. An unfortunate fact of life.

    Merry Christmas Eve-eve/Happy Holidays to everybody.

  48. If you don’t mind me asking, where does he teach? I went to St John’s K-8, then on to Pius (’94). I don’t know actual numbers, but I do remember my parents telling us kids how expensive it was to go there.

    I also remember one of the teachers being unmarried and pregnant while I was there, She was allowed to keep her job.

    It has been a while since I’ve been back. Is Lincoln still the only diocese that won’t allow girls to serve at mass?

  49. Ma’am,

    You cannot say that atheists are bad people, and then defend yourself by then saying that you never attacked an individual one personally. Consider if I said that Catholics were bad people, and then defended myself similarly.

    I don’t think that is a good defence. Please try to stay civil.

  50. I don’t remember if I ever said atheists are bad people or not. If I did, I misspoke in that I don’t think all atheists are of one type. However, to characterize what I usually do, which is mostly to use humor in a general way as somehow or other the equivalent of specific name-calling and reviling of an individual person by name is nonsense. As for a defense, I don’t need one, as I have done nothing to anyone. The aggression is all coming from the other side.

  51. I will admit freely I read the article because it was linked. I will also admit that I do not self identify as an atheist or currently anything else – I am merely a seeker of knowledge right now. I was raised Catholic and am married to a Catholic. I see this whole situations slightly differntly than you. I understand and believe that the school was well within their rights to dismiss their vice principal. While I may not personally agree with the decision, you simply can not violate a contract you voluntarily sign and then be shocked when you are dismissed for such. I would wonder why a seemingly talented administrator chose to do work somewhere were his lifestyle was seen as inherently sinful and it does make me curious if there is more to the story. We attended, at one point, a Church where the (I’d rather not name the specific job) was openly gay and no one seemed bothered enough about it to do anything. I do wonder if later on down the line despite the acceptance this individual has experienced for well over a decade, if one or more person decided to – that the individual could be dismissed. They are certainly outside the Church’s teaching, yet their value to the Church was such that their situation was ignored. Is there any possibility that this was true in this instance and that changing that is what sparked the outrage from the students. Rather than automaticallly assuming anything about the children involved, the situation instead makes me curious for more detail and about what nuance could be missing from the story reported.

  52. Can we get our facts straight before judging and intolerance? The catholic church is not antigay nor does it consider a gay orientation a sin. The catechism states that all gay people must be treated with respect. The church does have a sacramental view of marriage and does consider any sexual relationship outside of that sinful whether heterosexual or homosexual. I know it’s hard for some to accept and the media makes mistakes… but it comes from a place of love not lust and the eternal welfare of all. This is a church that marched with Dr. King and has always stood up to bigotry and for the human dignity of all. I wonder who the real bigots are these days?

  53. He teaches at St. Patrick’s. St. John’s is one of the more expensive parish schools in Lincoln – it’s in a wealthier neighborhood. Other schools (closer to downtown) are less expensive. And yes, at this point the Diocese of Lincoln maintains its policy of using the role of altar server as an opportunity for boys to consider a calling to the priesthood, so there are no girls serving at altar at this time. The new bishop (Conley) might change that policy in the future, but it has been every effective, as we have had more vocations to the priesthood per capita than most diocese. My son serves; my daughters read and do other things that help at Mass.

  54. I let this through just to even things out. Now everybody stop the name calling. (That includes Ted.) There is no reason for it. It demeans those who do it, and it demeans this blog.

  55. Relax Ted. Treat the atheist blog comments that come over like a horse would a fly and just brush them away. They don’t matter.

  56. I am aware of a Catholic Church that for years had a gay music director. When he went out of state to become married to his partner, the church released him for the same reason. To openly sin is an affront to the employer and against his contract. Many Catholic schools also have in their employee contracts that single parents may not give birth out of wed lock as well.

    Agree or disagree, it is a moral clause in the contract. They exist in many fields of endevour – including even pro-sports.

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