I posted yesterday about how Benet Academy, a private Catholic school in the western suburbs of Chicago, Illinois, had rescinded a head coaching job offer from someone after learning she was married to another woman.
The backlash from thousands of students, graduates, parents led to a wave of bad publicity for the school, partly because Amanda Kammes (a Benet graduate herself) had a stellar coaching résumé and partly because Kammes wasn’t in charge of any faith-based instruction. She wasn’t hired to teach Catholicism. There was no hypocrisy involved with an anti-gay Catholic institution hiring a qualified gay staff member for a position that had nothing to do with religion. (Just this month, in North Carolina, a gay teacher won a sex discrimination case against the Catholic school that fired him for similar reasons.)
It didn’t help that when students decided to protest the decision on Monday by wearing rainbow clothing, Head of School Stephen Marth issued a statement saying rainbows were “confusing and ambiguous and, therefore, lead to a lack of understanding or even division.”
It looks like all the negative attention on Benet’s bigoted administrators took its toll on them.
On Tuesday, the school announced that it had rehired Kammes.
“The board has heard from members of the Benet community on all sides of this issue over the past several days,” the school said in a statement.
The school acknowledged it had previously rescinded the job offer “upon learning that she is in a same-sex marriage.” But it added that the board “determined that Ms. Kammes’ background and experience made her the right candidate for the position.
“Going forward we will look for opportunities for dialogue in our community about how we remain true to our Catholic mission while meeting people where they are in their personal journey through life,” the school said. “For now, we hope that this is the first step in healing the Benet community.”
It’s a weak statement given the circumstances. The Benet board wants to sweep its Catholic bigotry under the rug while acting like what they did on Tuesday — only after a national outcry — was an act of love.
Benet didn’t explain how they would handle these situations moving forward. They didn’t say if other teachers or coaches in same-sex relationships would be welcome at the school, though that’s almost certainly not the case. They didn’t address the discrepancy between what they got wrong last week and why they needed to reverse course. They didn’t apologize for saying rainbows were too “complex and sophisticated” for students to understand.
Again, hiring Kammes was the right move, but Benet doesn’t deserve a reward for doing the right thing only after outside pressure forced their hand.
But if that’s the game they want to play, students there should sport rainbow clothes and accessories as much as possible. Make the administrators sweat. Make the Catholic Church squirm. Do whatever it takes to make sure this school never puts Catholic bigotry over what’s best for students.
(Screenshot via CBS. Portions of this article were published earlier)