John M. Becker

Catholic School Fires Gay Music Teacher for Getting Engaged

Filed By John M. Becker | January 14, 2014 11:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: Brian Panetta, Catholic attacks on LGBT rights, Catholic Church, Catholic schools, gay marriage, marriage equality, music education, Ohio, same-sex marriage

brian-panetta-catholic.jpgIt's happened again: yet another Catholic school has forced out a gay teacher, this time after learning that he got engaged to his boyfriend.

Brian Panetta (pictured at right with fiancé Nathan David), who has directed band and choral programs at Sandusky Central Catholic School since 2009, received a letter from administrators on January 3rd terminating his employment for "violating the moral and religious teachings of the Catholic Church."

The craziest part of Brian's story is that his termination letter came hours after he reported his own engagement to the school's president. He offered to resign of his own volition at the end of the school year -- long before his and David's July 2015 wedding -- in order to avoid any conflict with the church's anti-LGBT teachings, and also presumably to ensure that his students did not experience a disruption in their musical education. But that apparently was not good enough, at least not initially.

Last Thursday, however, Panetta met with school administrators and representatives from the Toledo Catholic Diocese, and they relented, allowing him to resign and avoid having a termination on his record. But the school insisted Panetta not resign at the end of the year, but immediately.

Further details, after the jump.

The Sandusky Register reports:

"I'm satisfied with their explanation, and right now I'm just praying for understanding and strength," Panetta said. "It's hard for me to walk away, but it's what's best for me personally, and I hope my students will understand that."

Their relationship wasn't a secret to the Sandusky Central Catholic School community, as David often attended school events and met several students and their families, Panetta said.

"This community has been like a family to me, and I've always had nothing but support," Panetta said. "I never had to hide."

Panetta is a product of Catholic education from grades K-12, and Sandusky Central Catholic School was his first teaching job after college. Under his tutelage, the band program nearly tripled in size and the choral program experienced similarly rapid growth.

Last Friday, Panetta distributed a goodbye letter to the community explaining his decision to resign. The letter states, in part:

"As a proud and gay Catholic, I understand the Church's teachings on marriage and agree that my engagement is a public statement of my position for marriage equality, which the Catholic Church does not yet support. I am hopeful to see change in the future, but until then I am praying for strength and understanding and encourage my students to do the same."

Mr. Panetta is just the latest in a long line of educators fired by Catholic schools for "offenses" like coming out of the closet or getting married to the person they love -- sometimes even on their wedding day.

Does this look like "who am I to judge?" to you? Didn't think so. In fact, it appears as though the Catholic Church's judgmental crusade against LGBT people is continuing unabated, Pope Francis's nice-sounding words notwithstanding.

Image source: Facebook.

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