Gay catholic school vice principal: I was told to divorce husband if I wanted to keep job

Mark-Zmuda

Mark Zmuda

The vice principal of a Catholic high school in Washington state who was reportedly dismissed after administrators learned he had married his same-sex partner is speaking out about the experience, saying his superiors gave him the option of divorcing his husband if he wanted to keep his job, The Huffington Post reported.

Mark Zmuda, who previously served as vice principal at Eastside Catholic High School in Sammammish, Wash., told King 5 News that School President Sister Mary Tracy told him he wouldn’t have to resign if he divorced his husband Dana Jergens. Zmuda and Jergens tied the knot in July 2013, roughly seven months after same-sex marriage became legal in Washington state.

“Apparently, the fact that I have a same-sex partner, they’re against that,” Zmuda is quoted as saying. “But I also thought a teaching they were against was divorce.”

An Associated Press report cites school attorney Mike Patterson who said that the vice principal agreed “in two December conversations” that he was resigning from the job, not being fired. The divorce suggestion, he said, was purely hypothetical.

After news of Zmuda’s resignation made national headlines last month, Eastside Catholic students began rallying in support of their former vice principal. Many participated in an on-campus sit-in on Dec. 19, while others took to social media in Zmuda’s defense.

King 5 cites a letter sent home to parents of Eastside Catholic High students which said that anyone involved in campus protests over Zmuda’s departure when classes resumed Jan. 6 would be sent home.

Still, founders of a Facebook page in support of Zmuda (which currently has over 1,500 followers) announced Jan. 6 that Sister Mary Tracy has agreed to meet with students to discuss to issue.

Watch the video here:

 

—  Steve Ramos

St. Edward’s bars Equality Texas from campus

Chuck Smith

St. Edwards University in Austin has barred Equality Texas from participating in a volunteer fair on campus according to the Austin American-Statesman.

St. Edward’s is a Catholic school and is listed as gay-friendly on the New Ways Ministry website. New Ways Ministry is a Catholic organization that works for gay and lesbian equality.

The school said the group may not recruit students on campus because its supports marriage equality, which goes against church teachings. An organization called Pride was listed on school’s website, but all information about the group has been removed since the controversy began last week. The Austin newspaper quoted from the site before the information was removed:

The Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Straight Alliance, “seeks to end discrimination and violence directed toward the gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgendered community.”

Chuck Smith, deputy director of Equality Texas, said he was surprised by school’s decision not to allow the group on campus.

“Historically, St. Edwards is viewed as welcoming and supportive,” he said.

But he said an Austin blog this week has been questioning whether the campus is becoming more conservative. He cited the recent trip to Texas by President Barack Obama. Organizers had wanted the president to speak on campus, but the school denied the request.

Smith said marriage equality is a topic that is being discussed on campus. He said students use Equality Texas as a resource and that he has personally done at least 25 interviews over the last few years with students doing research papers on the topic.

Smith said that on Tuesday, the school made a statement that although Equality Texas would not be allowed on campus, students who choose to volunteer with the organization are free to do so. Smith said the group uses student interns in four areas and some students get credit for their internships.

—  David Taffet

School official loses job after marrying partner

Associated Press

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — A top administrator at a Springfield Catholic school says she was forced out of her job after marrying her female partner last month.

Christine Judd, who served as dean of students and athletic director at Cathedral High School, tells The Republican newspaper that she met with school officials on Wednesday, Sept. 1 and was given the choice of resigning or getting fired.

Judd said she was “hurt,” and is exploring her legal options. Although gay marriage is legal in Massachusetts, it is against church policy.

Judd worked at the school for 12 years, beginning as a science teacher in 1998. She became dean of students six years ago and athletic director three years ago.

A spokesman for the Springfield Diocese said Judd resigned, but would not discuss the reasons for her resignation.

—  John Wright

‘Episcopal’ school in Bedford, Texas, denies enrollment to girl with 2 lesbian moms

A so-called “Episcopal” school in Bedford has denied admission to the daughter of two lesbian parents, NBCDFW.com reports.

St. Vincent’s Episcopal School turned down the daughter of Jill and Tracy Harrison, just a few days before school starts.

The Harrisons, who were married in Canada in 2006, crossed out the word “father” on the school’s application in June and replaced it with mother, listing both of their names. They attended a parents night at the school this past Tuesday before being notified of the decision, and they’ve been refunded the $100 application fee.

“I am horribly disappointed,” Jill Harrison said. “In fact, we are in the 21st century and we are still dealing with this issue. We should just move on. Denying my daughter education based on who I end up sleeping with at the end of the day makes me furious.”

The school’s nondiscrimination policy doesn’t include sexual orientation. From Kenneth Monk, the head of the school:

“We are a church affiliated with the Anglican Church in North America, and it is their policy that we don’t provide services to individuals or families that do not behave properly. We’re going off our canons that say, ‘The Anglican Church in North America affirms our Lord’s teaching that the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony is in its nature a union permanent and lifelong of one man and one woman.’”

It’s not uncommon for private religious schools to deny enrollment to the children of same-sex parents. But usually it’s a Catholic school.

In this case, the Anglican Church in North America is one of the groups that’s split off from the U.S. Episcopal Church over the demoniation’s decision to consecrate openly gay bishops. The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, which includes Bedford, is one of several that have broken away since Bishop V. Gene Robinson was consecrated in 2004. Which is why we’ve put “Episcopal” in quotations when referring to St. Vincent’s. The school’s website lists it as “A preschool through eighth grade school in the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth.”

UPDATE: A note we just received from Jason C.N. Smith, a Fort Worth attorney and straight LGBT ally who says he went to elementary school at St. Vincent’s:

“This action definitely not how I was taught to treat others at St. Vincent’s,” Smith wrote. “I was taught love God and thy neighbor as thy self, which includes this little girl and her parents.”

—  John Wright

Catholic school rejects preschooler with 2 moms

Just weeks after Catholic Charities in Washington, D.C., stopped offering benefits to the spouses of its employees to avoid possibly having to offer domestic partner benefits to employees in same-sex relationships (a decision that came in the wake of D.C. legalizing same-sex marriage, a move which the Catholic Church fought tooth and nail), and Catholic school in Boulder, Colo., is refusing to admit a preschooler who has lesbian parents.

About two dozen people gathered outside the church that runs Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic School on Sunday, March 7, to protest the decision, according to ABC Channel 7 News in Denver.

Although church officials declined to comment, officials with the Denver Archdiocese issued this statement: “To preserve the mission of our schools, and to respect the faith of wider Catholic community, we expect all families who enroll students to live in accord with Catholic teaching. Parents living in open discord with Catholic teaching in areas of faith and morals unfortunately choose by their actions to disqualify their children from enrollment.”

—  admin