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Seattle-area teachers reported fired for being gay; Catholic school says they resigned

A County Council member claims the two teachers were forced out of their positions at Kennedy Catholic High School "solely because they are gay."
Image: Kennedy Catholic High School in Burien, Wash.
Kennedy Catholic High School in Burien, Washington.Google Maps

A Seattle-area Catholic school's claim that two teachers resigned has been disputed by allegations that they were forced out over their same-sex relationships.

King County Council member Dave Upthegrove posted a statement from Kennedy Catholic High School in Burien, south of Seattle, that said two teachers, Paul Danforth and Michelle Beattie, "voluntarily resigned" from their positions. But Upthegrove claimed in his post that the 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 tried to contact Danforth and Beattie for comment based on information obtained from public records. Danforth did not immediately respond, 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," Nyberg said 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 told KING that Beattie also left because of a same-sex relationship.

A fundraising campaign that lists Nyberg as a co-organizer said the teachers were 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 requests for comment.

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Joe McDermott, another King County Council member, said the school "forced the resignations," sending the message to students "that being LGBTQ is wrong."

McDermott said that 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 Saturday on Facebook. "Such indoctrination harms young people in their formative years in very detrimental and specific ways."

A private Facebook group titled "KCHS Community & Alumni That Support Paul Danforth & Michelle Beattie," which was created Friday, had more than 3,600 members by Sunday evening.

Supporters planned to protest outside the office of the Archdiocese of Seattle on Tuesday morning, followed by a student walkout in the afternoon in solidarity with the teachers.