St. Mary’s rescinds job offer over same-sex relationship

The all-girls Catholic school sent a letter to parents explaining the situation

Signs protesting St. Mary's decision, August 26 2015. (KOIN)
Signs protesting St. Mary's decision, August 26 2015. (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — St. Mary’s Academy in Southwest Portland is under fire for reportedly withdrawing an employment offer from a candidate who revealed she would soon be entering a same-sex marriage.

The all-girls Catholic school sent a letter out to parents Tuesday explaining the situation.

A photo of Lauren Brown courtesy Lewis & Clark College of Arts and Sciences.
A photo of Lauren Brown courtesy Lewis & Clark College of Arts and Sciences.

“We recently made the challenging decision to withdraw an offer of employment the school had made to an individual due to a conflict with current Catholic teachings regarding same-sex marriage,” St. Mary’s President Christina Friedhoff said in the letter.

But the school’s decision to pull Lauren Brown’s employment offer didn’t sit well with everyone.

“St. Mary’s is a community where everyone is supposed to be equal,” junior Sabrina Ufer said. “Everyone is supposed to be accepted and have the ability to learn and educate in their own safe environment.”

On Wednesday, Portland Mayor Charlie Hales asked St. Mary’s Academy to reverse their decision to rescind Brown’s employment offer. Mayor Hales called for the school to follow in the city’s shared values.

Former staff members also spoke out regarding the school’s decision.

“It’s concerning to me,” former soccer coach Sarah Krabacher said. “I feel like it’s the wrong message to be sending if you want to empower young girls to be come stronger women.”

A representative from St. Mary’s Academy declined an interview with KOIN 6 News but provided the following statement:

“St. Mary’s Academy is a Catholic high school for young women that provides a challenging college-preparatory education in a vibrant learning environment. We are grounded in the Catholic religion and sponsored by our founders, the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary. St. Mary’s nurtures the Catholic identity, practice, culture and mission on which we were founded. We understand that others may hold different values, and we respect the right of individuals in society to do so. At the same time, as a Catholic high school we are obligated to follow current Catholic teachings regarding same-sex marriage in our employment practices.”

Still, students say St. Mary’s has sent mixed messages regarding acceptance towards others.

“Personally, St. Mary’s has taught me the number one Catholic value is always love,” sophomore Maria Gray said. “I think we should all be loving our neighbors and I think we should be respecting one another, whatever we can to uphold what we think is right.”

Earlier this month, Pope Francis called for the church to show more compassion towards divorced Catholics. The practice of same-sex marriage, however, is still not accepted in the Catholic faith.

A letter sent to parents at St. Mary's Academy.
A letter sent to parents at St. Mary’s Academy.

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