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Protesters Say Benet Academy In Lisle Rescinded Lacrosse Coach's Job Offer Because She Is A Lesbian

By Suzanne Le Mignot and Charlie De Mar

LISLE, Ill. (CBS) -- Protesters say a suburban Catholic high school coach had a job offer taken away just because she is a lesbian.

As CBS 2's Suzanne Le Mignot reported Monday, more than 2,000 people have signed a petition urging that Benet Academy in Lisle reconsider and hire Amanda Kammes – who is also an alumna of the school. They say her track record as a lacrosse coach should be the main focus for her employment, not the woman she loves.

"The most frustrating piece of this is that Amanda was not being hired as a religion teacher, or in a position where she would be responsible for supporting the Catholic Church's practices or religious traditions," said Tim Jacklich.

A list circulating on social media shows Kammes was hired as the lacrosse girls head varsity coach. Kammes' supporters say the job offer was rescinded, after Kammes listed her wife's name as an emergency contact.

"This former student, who is interested in coming back and supporting her school - she was not valuable, or not worthy of recognition and celebration, because of who she loves," Jacklich said.

Jacklich is a Kammes supporter and a 2016 Benet graduate. He sent an open letter to the school administration in support of Kammes being hired. Jacklich says more than 2,000 alumni signed the letter, along with about 600 parents of current students and nearly 300 current students.

"In fact, they feel quite strongly that this contradicts the character of this institution that we had all kind of come to love and support," he said.

Three generations of Jacklich family members graduated from the Catholic school. Tim Jacklich's grandmother, Sheila Jacklich was a French teacher at Benet, and also assistant dean.

Jacklich held signs up, with his grandmother's picture at the Monday morning protest about the decision not to hire Kammes.

"When we heard this news that a potential staff member had been rejected for who she loves, we knew that my grandmother would not have stood for that," Jacklich said.

Also speaking out on the subject was Benet Academy assistant lacrosse coach Colleen Savell.

"When you don't agree on something, you should speak out on the matter," Savell said. "You shouldn't stay silent."

Savell said she had no doubt as to why Kammes' job offer was rescinded.

"One hundred percent it was pulled because who she was married to," Savell said. "I want the girls and the students at Benet to know that this is not OK. This is not the example that we should be setting for the students here."

Savell said standing up for Kammes is the right thing to do — even if it means losing her coaching job that she has held for six years.

"Quite honestly, you know, I want to do what's right, and if that means that something is going to happen with Benet and my employment there, then that's what's going to happen - and I'll fight that," Savell said.

Despite the protests, legal expert Kim Yuracko says the law may be on the side of Benet Academy.

"There is an exception to anti-discrimination laws. It's called the ministerial exception, and it flows from the First Amendment - protection of freedom of religion," Yuracko told Le Mignot, "and what it says is that anti-discrimination laws don't apply to religious institutions in the employment of ministers."

Professor Yuracko said the U.S. Supreme Court ruled last year that ministerial exception can also apply to Catholic school teachers.

The board of directors at Benet Academy met Monday night. The meeting was not open to the public, and CBS 2's Charlie De Mar could not go in either.

CBS 2 requested on-camera interviews and a statement from Benet Academy several times Monday, but have not heard back.

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