Watch CBS News

Catholic school facing protests for allegedly forcing gay teachers out of their jobs

Students and parents were planning protests after a Catholic school outside of Seattle allegedly forced out two teachers for being gay. Kennedy Catholic High School in Burien, Washington, claims that both English teacher Paul Danforth and soccer coach Michelle Beattie "voluntarily resigned" shortly after they got engaged to same-sex partners.

In a statement to CBS News, Danforth's fiancé Sean Nyberg said his partner was "no longer employed specifically because he and I got engaged… This is not only personally painful, it also harms former students who looked up to them."

Danforth and Nyberg got engaged in November. Danforth had been teaching English at the school for five years, following in the footsteps of his father who taught there for almost four decades. Beattie also recently got engaged to her same-sex partner.

Students at the private school are now planning both a sit-in and a walkout. For students like 17-year-old senior Griffin Terry, a member of the LGBTQ community, the teachers' departures are personal.

"It just doesn't make me feel like I can walk back in that school and then receive my diploma from them," Terry said. "It makes me feel really dirty."

Senior Jacqueline Southwell said she doesn't know of any student who isn't planning to walk out of school.

Mark Miloscia, the executive director of the Family Policy Institute of Washington, argued that the school is exercising its religious freedom.

"Especially what we believe is a constitutional right to hire the teachers and employees to go teach their children the beliefs and practices that are dear to their faith," he told CBS News correspondent David Begnaud.

But some Kennedy Catholic High School parents said the Church has always taught that all are welcome. They were planning to stage a protest Tuesday at the Archdiocese of Seattle, which operates the school.

"Everybody is supportive of these teachers and supportive of the kids and everybody wants to make a change," said Jennifer Southwell.

The Archdiocese of Seattle said it had no comment on the matter.

Both Danforth and Beattie have hired an attorney, but it's unclear what type of legal action, if any, they will take.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.