I’ve been asked (and have asked myself) how I can send my kids to Catholic school in light of the “volunteer resignation” of two teachers at Kennedy High School. I’ve been left questioning my faith, what I’ve been led to believe, and whether or not I’ve been complicit in the whole thing.
Over the past 10 years, we’ve immersed ourselves in a community that allowed us to think that “this couldn’t happen to us.” The choice to send our kids to parochial school was partly out of tradition and a desire for faith-based learning, but mainly due to the parent and teacher community we found to be so open-minded and accepting. I suppose I assumed that our school administration and the powers that be looked past beliefs on same-sex relationships, just as I did. Maybe I’d convinced myself that things were changing.
I don’t have Catholicism in my DNA. I found my connection with God in the dimly lit basement of a neighborhood church AA meeting, not from a priest in our ornately decorated parish. I became Catholic through marriage and a desire for a shared faith, and perhaps because of that (or despite it) my beliefs don’t completely align with the catechism. I think it’s antiquated that women can’t be priests, that priests can’t be married, and I firmly believe that love is love, and the list goes on. Up until this point, the rewards of our Catholic community have outweighed the things I disagree with. Because, selfishly, I don’t want to have to choose between a church and supporting our LGBTQ community. I want both. So here I am, wondering why I can’t have something that I convinced myself I already had.
People are leaving the Catholic church not because they don’t love God or want to live as a faith-filled Catholic but because of moments like this. Instead of adapting to change, the church is hellbent (pun intended) on maintaining societal norms according to a centuries-old doctrine. Instead of walking with people in their differences, like Jesus, the Seattle Archdiocese is choosing to shun them.
Jesus came to the aid of those on the margins who were excluded and cast out from society. The fact that there was a contract or covenant that these Kennedy High teachers “broke” simply because of their same-sex relationships highlights a need for a catechism makeover. How can rules be broken when they violate basic human rights to begin with? And when rules are not applied equally, they are inherently discriminatory. Why haven’t we seen a mass “voluntary resignation” from every teacher who has been divorced or has an active prescription for birth control?
I’ve asked myself how I can reconcile sending my son to the same school that will not welcome these two beloved teachers. That complicated question was partially answered Tuesday when we stood outside Kennedy Catholic in peaceful protest. We were surrounded by the open-minded, accepting community that I’ve always loved, flocked by a sea of rainbow posters.
I looked around at my kids; my 15-year-old son among his classmates, my four younger kids next to me, and I couldn’t be prouder of what has come from this outrage. I watched hundreds of students show love for their school while speaking out on the injustices that remain in the system that built it. Catholics and non-Catholics, teachers and students from different schools, and members of the community, all shoulder to shoulder, leave me with immense hope for positive change on the horizon. Maybe the two respected teachers will return to their rightful positions. Or maybe this fire will die out, and all will remain the same. But for today, this noise reminds me of why I continue to stand in solidarity with my perfectly imperfect Catholic community.