BURIEN, Wash. — The COVID-19 pandemic has forced Seattle’s Pride Month events to go virtual. As Seattle Pride’s media partner, KIRO 7 is dedicated to raising awareness for inclusion and highlight issues directly impacting the LGBTQ community.
This year, Seattle Pride will recognize the youth activists who fought for their LGBTQ teachers’ rights. In February, students organized sit-ins and protests after two gay Kennedy Catholic High School teachers were dismissed.
English teacher Paul Danforth and soccer coach Michelle Beattie were forced to resign after announcing their engagements to their same-sex partners. Danforth’s fiancé attended one of the protests to thank students for their support.
“My name is Sean Nyberg, and I was the one who proposed to Paul Danforth,” said Sean Nyberg, Danforth’s fiancé, “I can’t say a lot but I can share this: Miss Beattie and Mr. Danforth love you and they miss you. And they see you.”
Parents and students accused the Catholic school of discrimination.
“I had to use my voice to speak up for the injustice there because she helped me in finding that voice, so I felt it was my calling,” said MJ Estacio, a Kennedy Catholic High School senior.
Students believe the teachers were mistreated because of their sexual orientation. They rallied together to demand they be reinstated.
“It was a lot easier when I knew I had my family supporting me and my fellow students backing me up. It all just seemed worth it because these are people’s jobs on the line,” said Maddy DuBois, a Kennedy Catholic High School senior.
“When you are bringing so much inclusivity to an establishment where maybe you don’t see yourself being represented all the time, I think that when you do have opportunities to bring awareness. It’s always the perfect time to jump on and be the best advocate you can be,” said Henry Lemus Vera, a Kennedy Catholic High School senior.
Following the protests, Seattle’s archbishop met with students and their families. He put the school’s president on leave through the end of the year and created a task force in response to the students’ concerns.
“If we don’t become more advocates for issues that are so personal, to us that we just let a lot of injustice and hate get swept under the carpet,” said Henry Lemus Vera, Kennedy Catholic High School senior.
“It shouldn’t be scary what’s on the other side of the fence, and it should actually fulfill you with more hope and push for a better future around here,” said Emiliano Hernandez, a Kennedy Catholic High School senior.
The young activists hope to inspire others to fight for inclusion, demonstrating anyone can make a difference when they stand together.
“Be passionate about what you are fighting for because if you lack passion, then there’s no reason to keep fighting for it. And if you keep fighting, eventually change will come,” said Sosna Araya, a Kennedy Catholic High School Junior.
© 2020 © 2020 Cox Media Group