LISLE, Ill. (CBS) — Protesters say a suburban Catholic high school coach has a job offer taken away just because she is a lesbian.
As CBS 2’s Suzanne Le Mignot reported Monday, more than 2,000 people have signed a petition urging that Benet Academy in Lisle reconsider and hire Amanda Kammes – who is also an alumna of the school. They say her track record as a lacrosse coach should be the main focus for her employment, not whom she loves.
“The most frustrating piece of this is that Amanda was not being hired as a religion teacher, or in a position where she would be responsible for supporting the Catholic Church’s practices or religious traditions,” said Tim Jacklich.
A list circulating on social media shows Kammes was hired as the lacrosse girls head varsity coach at Benet Academy. Kammes’ supporters say the job offer was rescinded, after Kammes listed her wife’s name as an emergency contact.
“This former student, who is interested in coming back and supporting her school – she was not valuable, or not worthy of recognition and celebration, because of who she loves,” Jacklich said.
Jacklich is a Kammes supporter and a 2016 Benet graduate. He sent an open letter to the school administration in support of Kammes being hired. Jacklich says more than 2,000 alumni signed the letter, along with about 600 parents of current students and nearly 300 current students.
“In fact, they feel quite strongly that this contradicts the character of this institution that we had all kind of come to love and support,” he said.
Three generations of Jacklich family members graduated from the Catholic school. Tim Jacklich’s grandmother, Sheila Jacklich was a French teacher at Benet, and also assistant dean.
Jacklich held signs up, with his grandmother’s picture at the Monday morning protest about the decision not to hire Kammes.
“When we heard this news that a potential staff member had been rejected for who she loves, we knew that my grandmother would not have stood for that,” Jacklich said.
Despite the protests, legal expert Kim Yuracko says the law may be on the side of Benet Academy.
“There is an exception to anti-discrimination laws. It’s called the ministerial exception, and it flows from the First Amendment – protection of freedom of religion,” Yuracko said, “and what it says is that anti-discrimination laws don’t apply to religious institutions in the employment of ministers.”
Professor Yuracko said the U.S. Supreme Court ruled last year that ministerial exception can also apply to Catholic school teachers. We requested on-camera interviews and a statement from Benet Academy several times Monday, but we not heard back.
Meanwhile, we have learned the board of directors at Benet Academy is planning to meet Monday night, but we understand the meeting is not open to the public.