An all-girls Catholic school in Portland is facing criticism from both students and local officials after rescinding a job offer to an academic counselor because she is gay, the Oregonian reported.
Students dressed the statue outside St. Mary's Academy in sunglasses and a sweatshirt to protest the school's actions against 27-year-old Lauren Brown. They have also started using the tag #FightForSMA to campaign for Brown to be re-hired.
According to the Williamette Week, the school offered her a position for the upcoming school year after interviewing her in April, only to pull the offer after she told an official that she was gay.
St. Mary's later offered to pay her a year's salary and benefits in exchange for not discussing the matter, and wanted her to sign a document stating that her "intent to enter into a same-sex marriage" was the reason for her termination. The "separation agreement" also reportedly contained scripts written by school officials for Brown to use to explain the matter online.
"To sign a contract that's going to affect the rest of my life, and my passion for advocating for LGBT youth and LGBT people—there’s no way I could sign that," Brown said. "I could never live with myself."
School president Christina Friedhoff said in a letter sent to parents on Tuesday that the school was "obligated to follow our current Catholic teachings regarding same-sex marriage in our employment practices."
"St. Mary's is grounded in the Catholic religion," Friedhoff wrote. "We ask that the faculty and staff support and nurture the Catholic identity, practice, culture and mission on which we were founded. We understand that others may hold different values, and we respect the right of individuals in society to do so."
However, Brown said she never told officials that she planned to marry her girlfriend, only that she asked Principal Kelli Clark if she would be allowed to bring her partner to school events, and how to mention the relationship in her biography. On July 22, Brown said, Clark said she would be supportive even though those matters constituted "uncharted territory."
Eight days later, Brown said, Clark called her and said, "It may not work out."
Pictures of the protest effort went online on Tuesday, as seen below:
St Marys students making T-shirts for first day of school in protest of rescinding gay woman's job offer #fightforsma http://t.co/ZCrLq6yY8A— Teresa Mahoney (@Teresa Mahoney)1440612857.0
Statue at St Mary's dressed by students to protest decision to revoke job offer bc of same-same marriage #fightforsma http://t.co/W5BVQ0OLqX— Teresa Mahoney (@Teresa Mahoney)1440607648.0
St. Mary's Academy rescinds job offer to gay counselor. All the reporting so far: http://t.co/kzT3FMz6pi #fightforsma http://t.co/7ShaODdCMw— Jerry Casey (@Jerry Casey)1440615727.0
The Week also reported that Mayor Charlie Hales released a statement calling for Brown to be re-hired.
"Portland is a city that embraces rights and opportunities for everyone," he said. "Those aren't just nice words. They are also the law. We believe St. Mary's Academy, and every other public, private and nonprofit organization in the city, should follow the letter and the spirit of the law, and our shared values."
[h/t The Mary Sue]