A Catholic high school in suburban Illinois recently rescinded a coaching job offer when administrators learned the candidate was gay. But after days of public outcry, and an online petition that garnered more than 4,100 signatures, the school reversed course and offered the woman her job back.
The episode shows that bigotry will not stand, even in the traditionally atavistic world of private Catholic education.
On Tuesday, Benet Academy in Lisle, Ill. offered the job of girls’ head lacrosse coach to Amanda Kammes, the Chicago Sun-Times reports. The school acknowledged it pulled the offer “upon learning that she is in a same-sex marriage.” Administrators changed their decision following a Monday meeting of the school’s board of directors.
“I am truly humbled at the outpouring of support,” Kammes said in a statement. “This community is full of highly intelligent, driven, socially aware and passionate people who will always stand up for what is right. I am encouraged, ready to move forward and coach Benet’s girls’ lacrosse team to success.”
Statement from Amanda Kammes, reinstated Benet Academy coach: pic.twitter.com/j13tjxzUgU— Mary Ann Ahern (@MaryAnnAhernNBC) September 21, 2021
Benet Academy, which enrolls 1,300 students, originally said it couldn’t hire Kammes because it adheres to the teachings of the Catholic Church. The school found out Kammes was gay when she listed her wife as an emergency contact.
The backlash to the school’s discriminatory decision was swift. Students and parents protested outside of the school Monday, brandishing rainbow flags and other pieces of pro-LGBTQ paraphernalia. The head of the school rebuked the demonstration as inappropriate, noting rainbow colors are “confusing and ambiguous” and represent a “lifestyle that the Church does not and cannot condone.”
Here at Benet where approximately 50 people are protesting the school’s decision to rescind the employment offer to new girls lacrosse coach and Benet alum Amanda Kammes after learning she was gay. pic.twitter.com/NkwA0Ivs5x— Joshua Welge (@jwelge96) September 20, 2021
On Tuesday, the school released a statement with a much more inclusive tone. “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,” it said, via the Sun-Times.
Kammes is an accomplished lacrosse coach and Benet alum. She previously led a team in Pennsylvania to two state titles.
In other words, she was the best person for the job. Kudos to the Benet community for standing up for what’s right.
Hopefully the next time a gay coaching candidate comes along, there won’t need to be a protest.