St. Mary's Academy reverses policy on hiring openly gay employee - KPTV - FOX 12

St. Mary's Academy reverses policy on hiring openly gay employees after backlash

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St. Mary's Academy board of directors have decided to change their equal employment policy after receiving backlash for withdrawing job offer.

In a statement, St. Mary's Academy President, Christina Friedhoff, said the board 'voted unanimously to support the administration's recommendation to amend and broaden St. Mary's policy on equal employment, bringing our employment policies in line with our mission and beliefs.'

This change comes after the school withdrew a job offer based on the teacher's same-sex marriage beliefs.

Lauren Brown, 27, had accepted a position as a college counselor at Saint Mary’s Academy. The school then withdrew the offer after Brown told the school she was going to marry another woman.

Christina Friedhoff, St. Mary's Academy president, sent out a letter out to alumnae Tuesday evening explaining the decision, noting that administrators had the support of the school's Board of Directors and the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, congregation that founded the school.

Wednesday morning the school had suspended their official Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts, but reactivated the Twitter and Facebook feeds Wednesday afternoon.

Students came by the school throughout the day Wednesday, many saying the actions did not remind them of the school they know an love.

“When I heard the news, I thought it was extremely unfortunate and very unlike St. Mary’s,” senior Mia Thurman said.

"Our whole religion class last year was all about ethics and social justice, and to do something that we were told is not right, it’s just really surprising,” senior Katie Ferrarini added.

On Wednesday night, St. Mary's released a statement expressing they will be changing their policy.

The statement also said 'effective immediately, St. Mary's has added sexual orientation to its equal employment opportunity policy.'

In a statement on whether Brown will get her job back, St. Mary's said "In preparation for school, which starts on Monday, we offered another candidate the position. We will be reaching out to Ms. Brown and Ms. Brown’s attorney and are open to further discussions with her about reconciliation."

A statement from Brown sent to FOX 12 on Thursday by her attorney said, "The students, parents, and alumni of St. Mary’s Academy should be so proud today. In 24 hours, they came together to speak up for what they know is right. This success shows that together we really can move mountains. I hope other places in the U.S. and around the world will take notice and feel encouraged by what happened here in Portland. We are all agents of change when we put forth the effort. 

No one can erase the past, and the last month of my life has been very difficult. Many people want to know if I will get my job back. Unfortunately, St. Mary’s stated last night that they filled the position with someone else, but also that they will be reaching out to my attorney and me in hopes of “reconciliation.” Although we have not yet been contacted, I am open to listening to what they have to say.

I know now that my intuition about St. Mary’s Academy was true all along. The St. Mary’s community is a safe, loving environment for students, and I am humbled that those students took such a strong stand for me. I only wish the administration’s change in heart had happened a month ago so I could be working with these inspirational students this year. Nonetheless, I am glad to know that what I experienced will never happen again at St. Mary’s, and I am overjoyed that the current LGBT staff members can now feel secure knowing they can be out at work."

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