Students, parents, and alumni of an Illinois Catholic academy are protesting the school’s decision to rescind a job offer for an employee after learning the employee was in a same-gender marriage.
Benet Academy in Lisle, Illinois allegedly withdrew its hiring offer to Amanda Kammes after she listed her wife as an emergency contact. Kammes had been hired as the girls lacrosse coach, reported Daily Herald.
According to an assistant coach at the school, Colleen Savell, Kammes had completed all aspects of the hiring process except for approval from the Academy’s head. Savell posted on Facebook:
“‘Amanda and parents have reached out numerous times to the school to request more information about why her employment was rescinded, but Amanda was sent a template email letting her know that she has been rejected from the job. Amanda has tried reaching out to the head of school many times to figure out why she was rejected from the job and she has received silence.'”
Administrators at Benet Academy defended their actions with a brief statement, saying that the school both “respects the dignity of all human beings to follow their conscience and live lives of their choosing and employs “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.”
In response, the school community has organized on behalf of Kammes, who is herself an alum of Benet Academy, with both a protest and a petition:
“A demonstration in protest of the decision was held on Monday morning outside the school. . .
“Opposition to the decision gained significant momentum over the weekend with more than 1,100 Benet alumni, parents and students signing an online letter condemning the decision addressed to members of the school’s leadership.
“[The petition reads, in part:] In your statement on this matter, you contend that ‘Benet Academy respects the dignity of all human beings to follow their conscience and to live lives of their choosing.’ And yet this hiring decision suggests quite the opposite. By rejecting a talented potential staff member on the basis of whom she loves, you have utterly failed to uphold the principles of dignity and charity that you purport to practice as (a) Christian institution. . .By all accounts, the candidate that you rejected was eminently qualified, and your shortsighted decision has deprived Benet students of her valuable experience.'”
Tim Jacklich, a gay alum who has eight other Benet Academy alumni in his family, told Fox 32:
“‘The institution released a statement they aim to employ people who reflect their Catholic values. We were shocked that love and acceptance and inclusion were not some of those values . .She is an eminently qualified coach, well-regarded in the community. . .They would have welcomed her on the team. . .”
This firing is the second time in just a few weeks that a Catholic school in the Diocese of Joliet has made headlines for LGBTQ-negative actions. Bondings 2.0 reported recently on St. Francis High School, Wheaton’s decision to rescind its policy to use the pronouns students give, citing a diocesan transgender-negative policy on gender.
Church worker firings harm not only the individuals involved, but the communities in which the employment discrimination occurs. It is especially tragic given how much harm such actions do to youth, LGBTQ and otherwise, and to their participation (or more appropriately, increasingly lack thereof) in the church. These are unnecessary wounds, and ones the Diocese of Joliet need quickly to rectify.
More than 100 church workers have lost their jobs in LGBTQ-related employment disputes that went public in the last decade. To view the full listing, click here. For resources on how Catholics can act to protect LGBTQ church workers, including implementing non-discrimination policies, click here.
—Robert Shine, New Ways Ministry, September 21, 2021