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Burien parent calls out hypocrisy after LGBTQ teachers resign

Kennedy Catholic High School students, parents, alumni, and members of the Catholic community protest the resignation of two gay teachers. (Nicole Jennings/KIRO Radio)

Paul Danforth and Michelle Beattie, two teachers at Kennedy Catholic High School in Burien, voluntarily resigned earlier this month, according to the Archdiocese of Seattle.

Kennedy Catholic High School students protest resignation of gay teachers

Students, parents, and alumni gathered last week in front of the school to protest the resignation. Members of the Catholic community believe the teachers were forced to resign because of their sexual orientation.

Emily Lynn Paulson, a parent of a 15-year-old at Kennedy, joined KIRO Radio’s Gee and Ursula Show on Monday. She attended the protest last week and wrote an opinion piece for The Seattle Times on her perspective of the situation.

Paulson first heard of the resignation by email. After sending a screenshot to her son, her son said he heard they were fired because they were gay. Paulson then contacted friends and parents, and a Facebook group in support of the teachers was formed. The Archdiocese then released a letter.

Paulson admitted she was not satisfied with the response from the administration.

“I think the initial silence was damning,” Paulson said. “The initial silence from the administration, and the fact that when we heard from the archbishop, we weren’t super happy with what he had to say. And, again, the school maintains they voluntarily resigned, but what we’re hearing from … one of the teacher’s fiance is that this is not the case. … [The] pieces aren’t matching up.”

In her article, Paulson said the rewards of the Catholic community outweigh her disagreements.

“[The] people who we have made a community with, the people who we have become friends with, the people our son has become friends with over the years, and the way we’ve felt in this community has outweighed any of the beliefs of the Catholic Church we don’t agree with because none of them have negatively affected us to this point,” Paulson explained.

Paulson has debated leaving an organization versus trying to make change from within.

“I’m at this point where I don’t think the answer is simply just ‘Let’s get out of here and let’s not participate in this anymore,'” Paulson said. “I think with social media now, and the kids are realizing people are listening to us. I mean, again, this has been international news, and at some point we need to be heard by the right people.”

While this issue is centered on same-sex marriage, which is not accepted by the Catholic church, neither are divorce, premarital sex, or birth control, leading many to wonder about the hypocrisy.

“One of the many problems is that these rules … thousands of years old … this doctrine, this catechism, these rules that we have around all of these things that are not OK, they’re not being applied equally,” Paulson said.

Paulson knows she does not have all the answers, but would like to see Kennedy get out from underneath the Archdiocese. She is unsure how much control the Archdiocese has over the school, but knows there are a lot of unanswered questions.

“Does it matter as a teacher, if they’re engaged to a man or a woman or whatever, if they’ve been married before, if they’re on birth control, at what point is it personal privacy and allowing [you] to live your life the way you want to?,” Paulson asked.

Kennedy Catholic High School released a statement Monday in regards to the recent protest, signed by school President Mike Prato and Principal Nancy Bradish.

Paulson converted to Catholicism when she married her husband, though she had experience with religion growing up and a belief in God. She’s comfortable being a voice of dissonance, and wants to help give a voice to the people who can’t speak up or who aren’t comfortable speaking up at this time.

“I think I owe to it my son and the other students and the teachers to be out there, and I’m fine taking the heat,” Paulson said. ” … I think we’re realizing we’re being complicit if we don’t speak up and we don’t do something about it.”

Listen to the Gee and Ursula weekday mornings from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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