A Seattle-area Catholic school’s claim that two teachers resigned has been disputed by allegations that they were in fact forced out over their same-sex relationships.
King County Councilman Dave Upthegrove posted a statement from Kennedy Catholic High School Saturday that claimed two teachers, Paul Danforth and Michelle Beattie, “voluntarily resigned” from their positions at the school. But Upthegrove claimed in his post that the two teachers were forced out “solely because they are gay.”
“This is a reminder of the blatant discrimination that continues to exist in our community against members of the LGBT community,” Upthegrove said.
NBC News attempted to contact both Danforth and Beattie based on information obtained from public records. Danforth did not immediately respond for comment and an email address listed for Beattie was no longer working.
Sean Nyberg, Danforth’s fiancé, told NBC affiliate KING that the English teacher “is no longer employed specifically because he and I got engaged.”
“We entered into an agreement to take our relationship to the next level and enjoy the emotional, spiritual, and legal benefits that marriage provides,” said Nyberg in a statement to the station. “However, in our case, Paul no longer is employed because I had asked him to marry me and he said yes.”
Nyberg claimed to KING that Beattie also left because of a same-sex relationship.
A GoFundMe for the teachers that lists Nyberg as a co-organizer said they’re no longer employed because “of their sexual orientation and desire to live authentically (and legally) married to their partners.”
Neither the school nor the Archdiocese of Seattle immediately responded to a request for comment from NBC News.
Joe McDermott, another King County councilman, said the school “forced the resignations” of the teachers, sending the message to students “that being LGBTQ is wrong.”
McDermott said he grew up Catholic and that the “damaging messaging” he received from the church was part of why he didn’t come out until he was 30 years old.
“Students see their role models lose their jobs for living authentic lives,” he said on Facebook Saturday. “Such indoctrination harms young people in their formative years in very detrimental and specific ways.”
A private Facebook group entitled “KCHS Community & Alumni That Support Paul Danforth & Michelle Beattie” was created Friday and had more than 3,000 members by Sunday afternoon.
Supporters planned to protest outside the office for the Archdiocese of Seattle on Tuesday morning, followed by a student walkout in the afternoon in solidarity with the two teachers.