A Seattle-area Catholic high school canceled classes today, partially because there was snow in the forecast, but also "in light of the difficult day" it had just been through. The difficulty? Hundreds of students staged a rally yesterday at Eastside Catholic High School to protest the termination of vice principal and swim coach Mark Zmuda, who was forced out after other administrators learned he had married his male partner over the summer, the Seattle Times reports. The protest even went viral and spread to nearby Catholic schools, with more protests taking place today.
At one point, Zmuda went outside to tell the story from his perspective. "He was crying and told us what we were doing meant a lot to him," one student says. As the news went national, some alumni began contacting the school and threatening to stop donating, KIRO 7 reports, and a Change.org petition to reinstate Zmuda has already garnered more than 14,000 signatures. But officials are holding fast. In a letter to parents, the school said Zmuda's marriage violated his employment contract. "It was clear that this is the teaching of the church. I know what we need to do," said sister Mary Tracy, the school president. A lawyer for the school said Zmuda was a "great administrator" and would get a "glowing reference."