A handful of supporters of a fired gay St. Lucy’s Priory teacher arrived at the Glendora Catholic high school Wednesday to host a silent protest at the school board meeting, but were turned away by campus security who told them that the meeting was open to only “approved members of the St. Lucy’s community.”
The protesters came in support of former teacher Ken Bencomo, who was fired from the school after photos of his same-sex marriage ceremony were published in a newspaper. Bencomo had taught at St. Lucy’s for 17 years, and according to former students and parents, school administrators knew of Bencomo’s sexual orientation.
Robert Alaniz, St. Lucy’s media spokesman, said that school board meetings are open to individuals of the St. Lucy’s community, and according to school officials, that community is limited to parents of current students.
School officials have remained firm on their stance, asserting that Bencomo was not fired because of his sexual orientation.
“St. Lucy’s Priory High School is a Benedictine school for those who strive to develop personal and academic excellence. St. Lucy’s is a community of faith for those who wish to express, practice and adhere to values in education based on the Roman Catholic tradition,” school officials said in a statement released to the media. “While the school does not discriminate against teachers or other school employees based on their private lifestyle choices, public displays of behavior that are directly contrary to church teachings are inconsistent with these values. These values are incorporated into the contractual obligations of each of our instructors and other employees.”
Brittany Littleton, protest organizer and St. Lucy’s alumna, dismissed school officials’ response.
“St.Lucy’s hasn’t really budged. They really just want to skirt the issue and avoid it,” said Littleton. “I think that in many cases of injustice, that’s how things start.”
Littleton, who is currently studying acting in Los Angeles, said their online petition in support of Bencomo has swelled to more than 90,000 signatures.
St. Lucy’s Alumna Alicia Doktor said she and other supporters hope to continue to protest peacefully at St. Lucy’s.
“I feel that our concerns are very important for the future of St. Lucy’s because this a blight on their reputation,” said Doktor. “This is not going to go away and we’d like the board to look at it from the perspective that this could hamper enrollment and create a very unfortunate legacy for this institution.”