Lesbian coaches have faced discrimination in the past, but what makes this particular story different is that not only was a lesbian hired and then fired by their school, but the support received led her to be rehired.
Amanda Kammes has been offered a position of head girls’ lacrosse coach at Benet Academy, a prestigious Catholic high school in suburban Chicago, Illinois.
When school officials found out that Kammes was married to another woman, they immediately rescinded the job offer just one day after she had been hired.
The school officials claimed that their mission was to provide religious instruction and same-sex marriage went against this.
“Benet Academy respects the dignity of all human beings to follow their conscience and to live lives of their choosing,” spokeswoman Jamie Moss said. “Likewise, as a Catholic school, we employ individuals whose lives manifest the essential teachings of the church in order to provide the education and faith formation of the young people entrusted to our care.”
No sooner had her contract been ended, Amanda Kammes received an outpouring of support from the women’s lacrosse team, alumni, and members of the community. 3,000 people have requested her return through a letter. They even held a rally outside school to protest!
The assistant for Benet Academy’s varsity lacrosse team, Colleen Savell, said she was thrilled and very proud of the players.
“I am so proud of the girls on the team and of their parents,” she said. “They have really rallied around Amanda, and it’s been unbelievable. They have blown my mind.”
The Benet Academy board of directors met to discuss the situation and admitted they had made a mistake. They decided Kammes is suited for this position after all. They offered Kammes back her job, and she accepted immediately!
“The Board of Directors of Benet Academy today announced that the Academy has extended an offer to Amanda Kammes to be the school’s next girls lacrosse head coach, and she has accepted the offer,” Benet Academy’s Board of Directors said in a statement emailed to NBC News. “The Board has heard from members of the Benet community on all sides of this issue over the past several days. We had an honest and heartfelt discussion on this very complex issue at our meeting. 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 on their personal journey through life. For now, we hope that this is the first step in healing the Benet community.”
While it took a push to get justice, I’m glad that this Catholic school was able to back down.
Last year, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of LGBTQ employees. They are now protected against discrimination in employment under Title VII, but exceptions are made for religious entities like Benet Academy, which gives them the right to discriminate against LGBTQ people.
This case illustrates once again that a Catholic school can be supportive, even inclusive, but still have reservations about employing LGBTQ people. Let’s hope this increases the amount of diversity within the Benet Academy. Now Assistant Coach Savell is calling on school officials to fully support LGBTQ students.