It turns out that two of the Eastside Catholic students who helped organize the protest are the children of Captain Keith, from the popular television Show Deadliest Catch. Captain Keith’s daughter, Sienna Colburn, is on the swim team which makes Mr. Zmuda her swim coach.
“As, like, a member of the swim team I was one of the first people who knew what was actually happening because I’m really close to Mr. Zmuda. So we fueled the fire, I guess.”
Talking to a 15-year-old girl about the protest, the thing that stuck out to me most was that it was almost less about the gay issue and more about the person.
“I’ve come to know him really well through the swim program, obviously. He’s just such a great man and a mentor and a role model to me. I just thought what was happening to him was so unfair, and just morally wrong, that I thought I should stand up against it.”
It reminds me of conservative politicians who are against gay marriage until their child comes out as gay. Knowing a person can really change the way you feel about an issue.
Sienna says she’s baffled by the school decision to let Mr. Zmuda go.
“I just can’t see, honestly, why because they’re losing such a great staff member and colleague and coach and friend for everyone.”
And even though hundreds of students have been protesting for two days, and the story has hit national media, Sienna doesn’t think Eastside Catholic will give Mr. Zmuda his job back.
“I think the rules could change but not really soon. I mean, it’s been written in their book, their bible, for, like, 2,000 years so I don’t think it’s going to change tomorrow. But I think we’re definitely taking the first step.”
And that makes Sienna look at her school a lot differently.
“It’s really made me hesitant to put down money for next school year because I don’t see how I can still go somewhere where I just completely disagree with everything they stand for.”
I wondered if there are outwardly gay students at Eastside Catholic.
“Yesterday during the sit-in a few kids actually came out. It was really accepted. Everybody stood up and clapped and screamed for them. So it was just a really touching moment.”
And how is Mr. Z reacting to this huge flood of support?
“Yesterday I think he was mostly just frazzled because everything that was happening. He was astonished at all of the love that he was getting from everyone. Students that he’s really only known for two years. He was just blown away by how we were treating him and he was really appreciative of everything.”
Sienna says she hopes to continue the protests next week.
“I just think that it’s really awesome and I want to express how proud I am of the student body for coming together and really, actually, making a difference.”