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Watch: Gay Teacher Reportedly 'Forced Out' of Catholic School Job

by Kilian Melloy
Tuesday Feb 18, 2020
Teacher Paul Danforth and his fiance Sean Nyquist
Teacher Paul Danforth and his fiance Sean Nyquist  (Source:Screencap / KOMO / Sean Nyberg)

It's either a case of a gay teacher quitting his job at a Catholic school of his own accord just after he got engaged to his male partner or a classic example of what's come to be called "Married (or Engaged) in the Morning, Fired in the Afternoon."

News channel KOMO reports that a gay teacher, Paul Danforth, is no longer employed at Kennedy Catholic School, which is located in Burien, Washington, which is located near Seattle. Also no longer employed at Kennedy Catholic School is another teacher, Michelle Beattie.

The school claims that both Danforth and Beattie left their jobs of their volition, but KOMO heard from Danforth's fiance, Sean Nyberg, that Danforth was "forced out" of his job after saying yes to Nyberg's proposal of marriage.

Declared Nyberg: "Danforth is no longer employed specifically because he and I got engaged."

Reports did not specify what happened in the case of Beattie, but according to comments reportedly made by Nyquist she, too, lost her job for not being heterosexual.

Students at the school - and their parents - were outraged, KOMO reported, and students planned a walkout for Feb. 18.

The situation caught the attention of Dave Upthegrove, a King County Council member, who took to social media to say that the teachers were both tossed from the school "solely because they are gay."

"I hope everyone who values fairness and equality is as disgusted and outraged by the mean-spirited action of this anti-LGBT institution," posted Upthegrove at Facebook.

"I am especially saddened by the message this sends to the LGBT students at the school," Upthegrove added in his post. "They may not be welcome or valued by their school but they need to know that their community loves and cares about them."

Upthegrove's post contained the school's own statement about the teachers no longer working there.

"They are highly capable, gifted, and qualified teachers, who have served our community with dedication and humility. Their loss will be felt deeply by their students and the entire community," the school's statement read in part.

Nyberg's statement echoed concerns about the well-being of at-risk LGBTQ youth who might find the situation traumatic.

"Mr. Danforth and Ms. Beattie will be fine. They will find a wonderful school and continue to do what they were born to do," Nyberg said, according to the news station King 5. "But for those kids out there that might question their own identity or feel they don't fit in, for any reason, do not let this news bring you down or make you feel less willing to be yourself...you are the future of this community and from what I am seeing, the future looks bright."

Watch the King 5 news report below.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor. He also reviews theater for WBUR. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.


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