LISLE, Ill. (WLS) — Benet Academy announced Tuesday that it has hired a new girl’s lacrosse coach whose employment decision had been deferred after officials at the Catholic school learned she was in a same-sex marriage.
The decision to hire Amanda Kammes was made during a board meeting Monday night. She has accepted the offer, the board said.
The Benet Academy Board of Directors said in a written statement: The Board of Directors of Benet Academy today announced that the Academy has extended an offer to Amanda Kammes to be the school’s next girls lacrosse head coach and she has accepted the offer. The Board met on Monday evening.
Benet Academy is a Catholic high school in Lisle, Illinois. The Catholic school had previously deferred its employment discussions with Ms. Kammes upon learning that she is in a same-sex marriage. The school’s Board determined that Ms. Kammes’ background and experience made her the right candidate for the position.
“The Board has heard from members of the Benet community on all sides of this issue over the past several days. We had an honest and heartfelt discussion on this very complex issue at our meeting. 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. For now, we hope that this is the first step in healing the Benet community.”
In a written statement, Kammes said: 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. 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.
Throughout the past few days, my hope is that the LGBTQ+ community at Benet and other Catholic institutions, felt supported, loved, and know that they are not alone. You are part of a community – as students, athletes, and friends – and I am your ally and will continue to be one.
To my classmates, fellow Benet alumni, current students, parents, and most importantly, the girls lacrosse team – I am truly humbled at the outpouring of support. 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. GO REDWINGS!
Please note: The video in the player above is from a previous story.
Students held a protest outside the Lisle school Monday morning.
“Unfortunately, when her paperwork got to the head of the school, he decided to rescind her offer because her emergency contact was listed as her wife,” said Colleen Savell, who has been the assistant varsity girl’s lacrosse coach at Benet for the last six years.
Savell said the head coach is fully qualified, and left her previous job as a lacrosse coach for Benet, which is also her alma mater. Savell said Benet is sending the wrong message to students and alumni.
“It’s a disappointment,” Savell said. “I’m thinking about the kids who go to school here and kids who are part of the LGBTQ community and how they’re feeling.”
Students and alumni have condemned Benet’s action, sending a petition to the administrations that says, in part: “We write to express our dismay and anger at the news that Benet Academy recently declined employment to an otherwise qualified candidate on the basis of her marriage to another woman.”
Students organized the rally Monday morning before the start of school, where participants were encouraged to wear rainbow gay pride masks.
“It was truly amazing to see all that and then a rainbow popped up over the protest and I think that was a message from the higher ups that what we’re doing is right,” Savell said.
A spokesperson for Benet Academy said in a written statement last week: Benet Academy respects the dignity of all human beings to follow their conscience and to live lives of their choosing. 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 statement only enraged vocal students, parents and alumni – who include elected state officials.
“Are they barring employment for people who have been divorced? Because the Catholic Church doesn’t believe in divorce,” said State Rep. Anne Stava-Murray, a Benet alumna. “Are they barring employment from anyone who has sexual intercourse outside marriage? Because the Catholic Church also frowns upon that.”
“We are horrified, but we are not surprised at all,” said Kim Gannon, faith-based activist and former Benet Academy student. “In fact, this experience has been slightly validating because this sort of thing has been going on with the administration for years. This has been a major catalyst that has struck a nerve for a lot of us.”
That tweaked nerve is the setting of a movement, now thousands of people deep, demanding the coach be reinstated and permanent changes be made to the school’s LGBTQ policies and practices.
“The biggest thing we need to worry about is these kids and if they feel safe at Benet Academy, and I do not believe they do,” Savell said.
The head coach has not commented.
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