Students at Eastside Catholic School in Sammamish, Washington,
also waged an online campaign urging the church to retreat from its
opposition to same-sex marriage, after learning that vice principal
and head swim coach Mark Zmuda was asked to resign.
"When it comes down to it, it's just human rights," said Bradley
Strode, 17, Eastside's senior class president. "This is what Christ
The dismissal at the school is the latest in a series of incidents
to erupt nationwide at Catholic schools over gay and lesbian
teachers, often creating tension between younger, more liberal
students and the orthodoxy of the church.
Ken Bencomo, a teacher at a Catholic school in Southern California,
was fired in July after he married his same-sex partner. Earlier
this month, Michael Griffin, a Catholic school teacher in
Pennsylvania, told the Philadelphia Inquirer and ABC local affiliate
WPVI that he was fired after he applied for a marriage license with
his same-sex partner.
Students at the Washington state school, where an online petition
organized by Strode garnered 17,000 signatures, said Zmuda was a
well-liked teacher who often engaged student groups to make the
school a better place.
Zmuda would stay behind after swim meets and sports games to help
pick up trash, Strode said.
Strode said he first learned Zmuda was gay on Thursday, when the
school president informed him about Zmuda's resignation.
[to top of second column]
Zmuda was scheduled to coach his final swim meet on Friday but did
come to the event. Team members posted a banner on the wall reading:
"We swim for Zmuda."
Greg Magnoni, spokesman for the Archdiocese of Seattle, declined to
comment on the situation, deferring instead to the school.
On its website, the school's president, Sister Mary E. Tracy, said
she and Zmuda "reached an understanding that the correct action was
for him to submit his resignation."
The statement said that Archbishop Peter Sartain agreed with the
decision. The letter did not state a reason for the resignation.
Same-sex marriage became legal in Washington state in November 2012.
Zmuda married in July.
(Editing by Sharon Bernstein and Eric Walsh)
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