A private Catholic high school in Illinois has decided to hire an out lesbian girls’ lacrosse coach after the community objected to the school’s rescinding the offer upon learning the coach was in a relationship with another woman.
Amanda Kammes had been hired by the Benet Academy in Chicago, but the offer was snatched away after she listed her wife as her point of contact in case of an emergency.
The school’s board of directors released a statement admitting they had “previously deferred its employment discussions with Ms. Kammes upon learning that she is in a same-sex marriage,” but that after careful consideration of her background as well as the overwhelmingly positive support of the community, the board decided Kammes was “the right candidate for the position.”
The statement went on to say the board and engaged in an “honest and heartfelt discussion on this very complex issue” and that “going forward we will look for opportunities for dialogue in our community about how we remain true to our Catholic mission while meeting people where they are in their personal journey through life.”
“It's been 20 years since I walked the hallways of Benet Academy, and yet, never in my life have I been prouder to be a Redwing,” Kammes said in a written statement quoted by WLS-TV. “The past week provided a chance for Benet to rally together in the name of community, sportsmanship, and social change, and I'm beyond grateful that Benet reconsidered their decision.”
Kammes, a respected coach with two state championships in the sport to her name, had been hired to coach the private academy’s team at Benet, and news of the school board’s second thoughts on the hiring sparked instant controversy from students, parents, and activists.
“Benet Academy respects the dignity of all human beings to follow their conscience and to live lives of their choosing,” a spokesperson for the school, Jamie Moss, said in a statement after the offer was initially rescinded. “Likewise, as a Catholic school, we employ 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.”
“The girls look up to her,” assistant lacrosse coach Savell told the AP at the time. “She would just be an outstanding person to be a high school coach here.”
Last month, students walked out of classes at Valor Christian High School in Colorado after a popular volleyball coach from the school was forced to resign after the school learned he was gay. Inoke Tonga was asked to denounce being gay and remove all social media posts that “speak about being gay” or he would no longer be an employee of the school.
It was the second such incident involving an LGBTQ+ coach being forced out of the school. Lauren Benner said she lost her job as the girls' lacrosse coach under similar circumstances.
“It’s not, ‘You're fired,’” Benner said at the time. “It’s, ‘You’re no longer in alignment.’”
Now that she is back in her job at Benet Academy, Kammes thanked the community for their support and said she was “truly humbled at the outpouring of support” for her role at the school.
“This community is full of highly intelligent, driven, socially aware, and passionate people who will always stand up for what is right. I am encouraged, ready to move forward, and coach Benet's girls' lacrosse team to success on and off the field,” Kammes said in her statement. “GO REDWINGS!”