Student Well-Being

Catholic Student Protest Highlights Shifting Views of Same-Sex Marriage

By Evie Blad — December 20, 2013 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

About 300 students from Eastside Catholic High School in Sammamish, Wash., staged a cafeteria sit-in and school walkout Thursday to protest the forced resignation of Vice Principal Mike Zmuda following his marriage to another man this summer, the Seattle Times reports.

The protest quickly spread through social media, and students at at least one other school held similar sit-ins.

By early afternoon Friday, an accompanying petition on gathered more than 12,500 names by early Friday afternoon. Says the petition:

The student body is outraged that an incredible administrator, coach, and human being was fired solely because of his love and marriage for another human being. We are uniting in order to change the Catholic Church's opposition of gay marriage. It is time to revisit the policy and act as Jesus would have, loving and supporting every person regardless of their marital status. United, we want this policy changed so that the Catholic Church can achieve its mission of acting with unconditional love in every situation."

The school said Zmuda had signed an employment agreement that said he would abide by the teachings of the Catholic Church and that he had violated that agreement when he got married. Similar situations have happened at Catholic schools throughout the country.

What’s noteworthy about this situation isn’t necessarily the forced resignations. (As private, religious employers, Catholic schools can require their employees to agree to certain lifestyle provisions.) What’s notable for educators, at both public and private schools, is that the protests provide a visual confirmation about how quickly youth attitudes have shifted about certain social issues, most notably same-sex marriage. In general, more Americans have started to favor same-sex marriage, but opinions are shifting more rapidly among Millenials.

In recent years, blossoming movements to support bullied gay teens have given way to wide-scale acceptance and even student action.

Changing social attitudes create interesting circumstances for educators and opportunities for teachers to engage their students in classroom conversations that have personal relevance to them. History teachers could talk about how religious views affected the formation of nations and how the Constitution was structured to respect a variety of religious beliefs. Government teachers could talk about the proposed Employment Non-Discrimination Act and whether it applies to this situation.

It’s also maybe a good chance for a civics lesson. Some students reported on Twitter that they next planned to take their protests to City Hall. Maybe someone should tell them City Hall doesn’t have any control over this issue?

A version of this news article first appeared in the Rules for Engagement blog.

Commenting has been disabled on effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
School & District Management Webinar
Ensuring Continuity of Learning: How to Prepare for the Next Disruption
Across the country, K-12 schools and districts are, again, considering how to ensure effective continuity of learning in the face of emerging COVID variants, politicized debates, and more. Learn from Alexandria City Public Schools superintendent
Content provided by Class
Teaching Profession Live Online Discussion What Have We Learned From Teachers During the Pandemic?
University of California, Santa Cruz, researcher Lora Bartlett and her colleagues spent months studying how the pandemic affected classroom teachers. We will discuss the takeaways from her research not only for teachers, but also for

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Student Well-Being Opinion What 9/11 Can Teach Us Today
We can only guess at what weighs on other people. Hurts and wounds are not always visible on the outside.
Pamela Cantor
1 min read
Images shows a stylized artistic landscape with soothing colors.
Student Well-Being Opinion Educators, Be Future-Ready, But Don’t Ignore the Present
Being ready for what lies ahead is important, but we also need to gain a better understanding of the here and now.
5 min read
shutterstock 226918177
Student Well-Being Opinion How to Prioritize Student Well-Being This Year
Use the Student Thriving Index to find out where your kids stand. Because you cannot manage what you cannot measure.
2 min read
Images shows a stylized artistic landscape with soothing colors.
Student Well-Being Spotlight Spotlight on Supporting Teachers & Students
In this Spotlight, evaluate your district and what supports your schools offer, assess attendance policies to avoid burnout, and more