Students Revolt After Mark Zmuda, Former Cardinal Gibbons Teacher, Is Forced to Resign from Catholic School for Being Gay
Yesterday afternoon, I heard a story about a group of students at Eastside Catholic School in Sammamish, Washington. They staged a sit-in to protest the forced resignation of their gay vice principal. This was due to his recent marriage to another man. Because the high school is a private Catholic one, this marriage had violated his contract. In protest of the decision, hundreds of students refused to go to class.
Later, I learned that the vice principal at the center of the controversy is Mark Zmuda, a former high school teacher of mine from Cardinal Gibbons High School in Fort Lauderdale.
Zmuda reportedly married Dana Jergens last July, seven months after gay marriage became legal in Washington. School officials said that he had violated his contract and that the decision to force his resignation was made by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Seattle.
In this video that was apparently shot from a student's cell phone, Zmuda accepted his fate and addressed students, telling them: "I love each and every one of you, Yes, I am gay. Yes, I did get married this past summer, and I know it is against the Catholic teaching. I think a lot of you guys are raised in a generation that is more open and accepting to things that are legal now in the state of Washington... I hope that no matter what happens to me and to the school that all of you guys will seek a career and work very hard, find the love of your life, and one day get married as well."
He told them, "Do your best," and one student yelled, "We're not gonna do it without you!" leading to applause from the room full of students.
A news report from Washington said the student protest spread to other area schools. In the wake of the resignation, students started a petition at Change.org, asking that the Catholic Church change its stance on gay marriage. As of this morning, more than 9,000 people had signed it.
In a story that I'm sure will be used as a platform for endless, circular political and religious debates, I think there's really only one thing people need to know: What kind of teacher Mark Zmuda was.