The vice principal of a Seattle Catholic school was ousted for marrying another man, sparking an outcry from students and staff.
More than 400 students at Eastside Catholic in Sammamish, Wash. staged a sit-in Tuesday to show their solidarity with former Vice Principal and school swim coach Mark Zmuda.
"The fact that you guys are all here for me means the world," Zmuda told students. "I just wanted you to know that I love each and every one of you. I appreciate the love and concern."
In a letter sent out to parents, the school’s administration wrote that Zmuda’s same-sex marriage “violated his employment contract” as it violated the rules of the Catholic Church. It then expressed its thanks for Zmuda’s “exemplary service” during his tenure of over a year at the school.
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One hundred students reportedly cut class to protest Zmuda’s dismissal publicly.
“We’re all here for him, we accept him for who he is. We’re ashamed that this has happened. We’re going to do everything we can to stop it,” said student Julia Burns.
The decision was made by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Seattle.
Lawyer Mike Patterson, a spokesperson for Zmuda, said he agreed to resign after school officials confronted him.
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“Mark understands when he agreed to work for a Catholic school one of the requirements is you have to follow the magisterium of the church. The Catholic Church does not approve same-sex marriages. He is resigning as a result of that,” Patterson said.
The students are planning a petition with students from other schools in the diocese in an effort to get Zmuda back. News of the protest spread through Twitter and text.
Zmuda came to tell the protesting students in students what had happened, said student Sophia Cerino.
“He told us he had gotten fired because he is gay and married. He told us to grow up, get a job and find true love. He was crying and told us what we were doing meant a lot to him.”