Stand Firm, Benet Academy, For LGBQT Rights | Editorial


About those rainbow colors. They are not confusing.

Not at a time when same-sex marriage is legal in all 50 states, where the largest culturally moderate Midwestern city elects a gay woman as mayor, and teenage pop star JoJo Siwa dances with his same-sex partner on “Dancing with the stars. “

We knew exactly what students and teachers at Benet Academy in Lisle were saying earlier this month when they wore rainbow colors on campus, even though school principal Stephen Marth claimed find that a bit “confusing”.

They stood up for tolerance, acceptance, love and – they emphasized – their Christian values ​​by protesting the school administration’s decision to cancel a job offer to respected lacrosse coach Amanda Kammes only. because she was married to another woman.

And if more clarity was needed, they made it clear in an online petition demanding that the school change course and hire Kammes:

“By rejecting a potential talented staff member on the basis of who she loves, you have totally failed to uphold the principles of dignity and charity that you claim to practice as a Christian institution,” they wrote. “We are ashamed of your narrow interpretation of Christian morality.”

“The right candidate”

Well, everything went well. If only for the moment.

After a board meeting of the Benet Academy on September 20, the administration finally decided to hire Kammes, claiming that her “education and experience” made her “the right candidate for the job”. The school board and administration had in fact listened to the arguments of students and teachers, and many of us dared to hope that this might mark a new attitude of Catholic schools towards hiring people. LGBTQ.

Good again. Not so fast.

On Tuesday, the school’s chancellor, Father Austin Murphy of Saint-Procope Abbey, said he was “deeply disturbed by the school’s decision which calls into question its adherence to the doctrines of the Catholic faith”.

It’s unclear if Murphy has the power to overturn the decision to hire Kammes, but the school was founded by the Abbey and Murphy sits on the board. At the very least, he is in a position to put this hiring decision into play.

It’s time to wear those rainbow colors again, students. It’s time to remind Murphy that gay rights are human rights, that no one goes back in the closet, and that when a religious group is deeply divided on a question of right and wrong – as are American Catholics on that. here – it is always better to lean towards greater compassion and acceptance.

Also, excellent instructors like Kammes, herself a Benet alumnus, don’t come every day.

“Ministerial exceptions” must be real exceptions

From a legal standpoint, the question remains open whether Benet Academy, or any denominational school, is on a solid footing to refuse to hire a teacher or coach because of their sexual orientation.

Last year, a majority of the United States Supreme Court, in Bostock v. Clayton County, ruled that an employer who fires someone because they are gay or transgender violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination in employment. depending on the color of race, religion, sex or national origin.

But the court also allowed a “ministerial exception” to this ban when it comes to religious institutions choosing their clergy and others who work in the ministry.

The question then becomes whether teachers and coaches – like a women’s lacrosse coach at Benet Academy – can be credibly claimed, in a secular US court, as working in the ministry.

In our opinion, this is an absurd stretch, much like calling for a ministerial exception to the hiring of an African American teacher or coach. In a nation that holds civil rights to be precious, ministerial exceptions should be real exceptions.

And yet more than 100 Catholic church workers over the past decade, including teachers, have lost their jobs in LGBTQ-related job disputes that have been made public, according to New Way Ministry, an organization who stands up for LGBTQ Catholics.

The administration of Benet Academy listened to its best angels, as channeled by the students and teachers of the school, by reversing the course and hiring Kammes. May he never stop listening or standing up for what is right.

Send letters to [email protected].

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