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Gay Glendora Catholic School Teacher Fired After Same-Sex Wedding Ceremony

St. Lucy’s Priory teacher Ken Bencomo married his partner in a civil ceremony earlier this month. Days later, he lost his job.

Gay St. Lucy's Priory teacher Ken Bencomo was fired from his job after he went public with his wedding ceremony to his longtime partner. Photo Credit: File photo.
Gay St. Lucy's Priory teacher Ken Bencomo was fired from his job after he went public with his wedding ceremony to his longtime partner. Photo Credit: File photo.

An online petition demanding St. Lucy’s Priory to give fired gay teacher Ken Bencomo his job back has been circulating following his firing from the all-girls Catholic high school in Glendora earlier this month.

The petition, initiated by former St. Lucy’s student Brittany Littleton, alleges that Bencomo, 45, was fired from his position as a teacher and the head of the school’s English department after the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin published photos of his July 1 wedding to his longtime partner Christopher Pensky, 32, in a civil ceremony at the San Bernardino County Hall of Records.

In the petition, Littleton describes Bencomo, who had taught at St. Lucy’s for 17 years, as “a beloved mentor, confidant, and educator. His passion for teaching, as well as his witty personality, have made him a favorite teacher among many students.”

The petition currently has more than 2,000 supporters.

Bencomo’s attorney Patrick McGarrigle told the Daily Bulletin that the school had known about Bencomo’s sexual orientation for years, but fired the teacher after he made his relationship with his partner public.

St. Lucy’s officials have declined to comment on Bencomo’s firing, but issued a written statement: “As a Benedictine school, St. Lucy's is a community for those who wish to express Christian values in education and develop person and academic excellence.”

What do you think about Ken Bencomo’s firing from St. Lucy’s Priory? Do you think he should get his job back? Tell us in the comments below.

JC August 01, 2013 at 12:47 PM
Dearest Julie, being nasty and mean spirited is not conducive to Christian conversation. He hasn't sued anyone, and public school children are equal to private in God's eyes. Your inference that there are no morals in public schools is the kind of negativity that spreads distrust and judgment of Catholics and Christians in general.
Julie Pielaat August 01, 2013 at 01:16 PM
BTW, the Pope did make clear that while gays who search God and spirituality should be accepted, they should also remain celibate.
Jennifer Andover August 01, 2013 at 01:44 PM
Jesus was all good kind and loving. Maybe the administration at St. Lucys need to think about the example they set for the young people they educate. Why not set a standard of acceptance and compassion? Teach the importance of treating others fairly. Do unto others...Doesnt anybody value kindness? Just simple kindness.
Jennifer Andover August 01, 2013 at 02:08 PM
BTW....the bible says it is a sin to lie, steal, etc. ...so I guess there are many more people to fire at St. Lucys. Do the right thing...act like christians...GIVE THE MAN HIS JOB BACK!!
Phoenix August 01, 2013 at 03:13 PM
Jennifer, he is living in a continual state of sin according to Church teaching. That is different from telling a lie, confessing, and asking forgiveness with an intent not to do it again.
Michael C Walker August 01, 2013 at 03:47 PM
Living in a state of sin? How would they deal with a divorced teacher?
Anne Kosanovich August 01, 2013 at 04:15 PM
Why is it that people (outside of a group) love to tell others (in a group) what they should do in their group? If you don't like the rules, don't belong to the group. Once again, an example of "non-judgmental" people making judgements!
just my opinion August 01, 2013 at 04:22 PM
These schools need to get with the times! So... You can't work there and be a married gay... What if he gets a quick divorce, can he have his job back? Can you attend school there and be gay? Can you be a gay janitor? Volunteer? Gay parent of a student? We are not supposed to judge, yet all these private religious schools do.... is judge! They like the control! All about money! All these private religious schools are just businesses! They can ask anyone to leave at any time! The state of California Education Department has nothing to do with these schools. I learned that the hard way! Just like a business... The boss( principal) can make any rule at anytime. They can be prejudiced, lie, contradict as much as they want! They are firing people for being gay? There are people teaching at these schools that have no teaching certification or degree! But, that's okay?!?? To get hired.. All you have to do is be close with God and you're in! I bet the person that fired him has some crazy skeletons in their closet! Be tough! Good luck!
Phoenix August 01, 2013 at 04:39 PM
Michael, according to Church teaching, a person may divorce but may not marry again without the divorce being annulled (the Church stating that the marriage vows are not valid, in the case where one spouse does not maintain the vows, whether by cheating, not loving, honoring, obeying, refusing to have children or not raising children in the Catholic faith, etc.). A divorced Catholic whose marriage has not been annulled may still participate in the sacraments. A divorced Catholic who remarries without an annullment has violated Church teaching and is therefore not in a state of grace. He/she may attend Mass, but may not receive the Eucharist.
Jennifer Andover August 01, 2013 at 08:53 PM
I am a Catholic, raised and educated in Catholic school in Glendora. I am so sad to see the non christian attitudes of other Catholics. Id like to know St. lucys policy on accepting large cash donations from married gay people. Im sure we all know the answer! SHAME ON YOU ST. LUCYS HIGH SCHOOL!
Mikey's Mom August 01, 2013 at 09:37 PM
this lawsuit is all too easy. while california is an at will state, wrongful termination still holds up in court once in awhile and i believe this will be one of those situations. the school knew he was gay and fired him for doing something legal. this case will set a presedence. yes shame on you st. lucys board, this is going to cost the school a lot of money
AB August 02, 2013 at 03:06 AM
What this sets up is a precedent for religious institutions no longer offering private education. Lawsuits like these are too costly and the institutions are unwilling to compromise their values. There simply will not be the same kinds of religious freedoms enjoyed in the past. The cost of one is the price of the other's. Not a judgement call, just an observation.
JC August 02, 2013 at 10:37 AM
Dear Jennifer, the fact is, you don't know if such a donation would be accepted or not, because your conjecture is nothing more than that--an angry conjecture. Your supposition is equally as imaginary as the one conjecturing the teacher will sue, and it's this type of talk that alienates people from Catholics and Christians in general. Furthermore, St. Lucy's, as most private learning institutions, is nonprofit, so the statement about it being a business out for the money is ludicrous. Families who send their children to Catholic school know that school runs by Catholic doctrine, and then they are incensed when the school enforces the doctrine? This comes down from Rome, so take your complaints there. You'd be equally annoyed in a public school if a teacher did something worthy of firing, and then the Union and tenure stepped in to block it. Wherever you send your child, know the rules and then expect to play by them. That's a big part of society's problem: everyone thinks the rules don't apply to them! If this were to go to court and he is reinstated, what's next? Forcing Catholic hospitals to provide abortions? That's legal, too. Everyone here is running on emotion when they need to consider FACT. And by the way, the court ruled gay marriage legal, but the people voted against it.
just my opinion August 02, 2013 at 12:02 PM
Again, this school is a business. No lawsuit to be made, at all! If It were a public school, maybe. This school is a business Only.There is zero support for anyone at this school! No help from the Education Board of California no help anywhere. If you have any problem with these private religious schools you are at a loss! These schools can hire anyone they can enroll anyone they can choose to change their mind at any time they are simply a business!!!! I called the California Department of Education they said "we have no jurisdiction with these private religious schools and we get constant complaints regarding these schools. The public seems to think the California Board of Education does have something to say about it ..when in fact we do not." When I asked "why" I was told.. "the State of California Education Boad has about as much rights over your dry cleaners as we do private religious schools. In fact, the dry cleaners may take our call before a private school would" Private religious schools want to claim zero tolerance, yet when you start asking serious questions, no one is available to comment! I hope this article can open up all the questions with these schools! The teacher that was fired should speak out about ALL the discrepancies!!! The board members of these schools are either alumni, parents or family members of students. I have yet to see a board member to just make sure these schools follow their own rules.. That THEY put into place! You ask any board member and the answer to any problem or concern is " talk to the school" Again... The state if California is not involved. Lets not start about the Catholic Church and their marriage thoughts.... Again.. It's up to the individual wether or not to uphold the belief in that moment of time. The Catholic Church has hid so many terrible things! I live by this school and the behavior outside school grounds is atrocious!! Again, the school should choose what path they want to follow.... Either follow the rules you put into place and never bend them, or embrace change!!!! But you cannot have it both ways! And these kids are not under any guidelines from the state! The employees do not have to follow state guidelines. The legally don't have to pull fingerprints or criminal history. A gay teacher is the least of their problems! I'm pretty sure they are regretting their decision now!!!! I still feel bad for the teacher! Be who you are and be proud!!!! And, CONGRATULATIONS on your marriage!
JC August 02, 2013 at 12:44 PM
There is a difference between a business and a nonprofit educational institution. You are completely off topic here. However, why don't you park yourself outside any high school and see the "atrocious" things going on. That's teenagers, and that's high school. You are right on one account: private schools play by their own rules. Love it or leave it.
just my opinion August 02, 2013 at 01:33 PM
Non profit, not for profit, llc... Still a business! Ha Teenagers are pretty rough at this age. The reason I said that is these schools want to claim that their school ( staff and students) are living a catholic life. The behavior I see is not even close. The difference is ....public schools don't claim to be anything other than a public school. It is way bigger than this school firing a gay teacher. To claim to follow the catholic beliefs, then they must follow ALL of them. Right? My point was to show this school plays by its own set if rules. These schools DO NOT Answer to the STATE EDUCATION BOARD.
Phoenix August 02, 2013 at 01:55 PM
Just my opinion, must EVERYTHING in your world be regulated by the government?
Anne Kosanovich August 03, 2013 at 12:33 AM
First, I must say SHAME on this teacher for bringing his personal life and agenda into the public eye and causing controversy to St. Lucy's. I hope St. Lucy's doesn't cave on their decision. I truly believe that families will support, with enrollment, the school. I would think that parents who send their kids to Catholic or any other Christian school do so, so they don't have to deal with some secular issues. Jennifer, you can't be Catholic if you go knowingly against their doctrine. That is called blasphemy or heresy. 1 Corinthians 1.10: Now I appeal to you, brothers and sisters,* by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you should be in agreement and that there should be no divisions among you, but that you should be united in the same mind and the same purpose. Also, Titus 3.10-11: "After a first and second admonition, have nothing more to do with anyone who causes divisions, since you know that such a person is perverted and sinful, being self-condemned." As for 'just my opinion', if you see staff members' behavior outside of the school that is against the 'beliefs' of the church, maybe reporting them to the school would be appropriate. If it is students behavior, that should definitely be reported. They are children who are still learning. As far as private schools setting their own rules, of course! That is why people go to private schools. Parents are on the boards of these schools as well. Basic education has to fall into the state standards in order to be accredited, but otherwise a private school should not have to go against their doctrine when it comes to their employees. For all of you who think that Jesus was just a nice guy who came to teach us how to love and accept everyone as they are, Matthew 10.34: ‘Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. Luke 12.51: Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division! Remember that he may have come to sinners, but he required them to turn and sin no more.
JC August 03, 2013 at 10:48 AM
Obviously some education wouldn't do you any harm. It's always amazing how liberal-minded people think only liberal-minded people are entitled to their opinions.
GtownGirl August 03, 2013 at 11:55 AM
I don't really care if you are religious or not. No one has the right to judge anyone else. In my experience, growing up with the girls who have gone to this school, they have been rude, mean, judgmental bullies. If these people acted like REAL Christians, then they wouldn't be judging a teacher based on who he loves. I wish that those people would take a good, hard look in the mirror and realize that they are NOT God, and should leave all judgements to Him, and Him alone.
Jess Gall August 04, 2013 at 03:20 AM
As a alumni not everyone who attended this school is or was a judgmental bully, rude, or mean. Have you met every single student and graduate? That is an unfair judgment in itself. I am a mental health therapist and far from the person you mention Gtowngirl.
GtownGirl August 04, 2013 at 12:25 PM
I didnt say everyone, i said the ones that i grew up with were. Maybe it isa good thing got fired, that way he can work with people who actually give a crap about him.
JC August 06, 2013 at 10:27 AM
This is not about judgment. When you sign a contract to abide by rules of behavior, you are obliged to fulfill the contract. Period. Don't like the contract? Don't work or go to school there. Period.
just my opinion August 06, 2013 at 11:07 AM
GTownGirl: well said! If the school is gonna stand to his firing... The school should be investigated and ALL the non -Christian behavior on that campus should be dealt with accordingly. These schools hide behind religion, and use religion all at the same time. I'm confused if they knew his sexual orientation for many years & fired him after a newspaper article, why fire him then? That was a time for him to celebrate!!! The school wants to use religion and say they do not judge, then turn around and use religion as an excuse to fire him! Sad. Sad. Sad
JC August 06, 2013 at 11:34 AM
As stated earlier, the Catholic stance on homosexuality is that being gay is not a sin; it's the unnatural sexual act that is. Being married is a virtual certainty that act is being performed. The school has a right to enforce a contract as well as having a right to these beliefs according to Freedom of Religion. I find it sad, sad, sad you can't seem to get a grip on this. These are the points of contention here, not your complaints about the behavior of the students.
Phoenix August 06, 2013 at 12:20 PM
Just out of curiousity, I would like to know if anyone feels that it would be appropriate for a Catholic-run hospital to terminate the employment of a contracted doctor who performs abortions or administers a lethal dose of morphine to a terminally ill patient. Please comment.
just my opinion August 06, 2013 at 02:03 PM
Phoenix: same issue there! These schools need to abide by the LAWS they put there in the first place. These schools have many other activities that are not in stride with Christian beliefs and they do nothing about it. If this teacher was a parent of a student, they would sweep their beliefs and rules right under the rug to get the tuition. The teacher get paid and they lose money with him. It's all about money!
Anne Kosanovich August 06, 2013 at 05:17 PM
Well said, JC. For all of the critics of St. Lucy's, how are any of your comments NOT judgmental, as well? A private school or company has the freedom, under the 1st Amendment, to follow their own religious convictions as they see them. When are we going to stop making excuses for people and let them live with the consequences of their choice of actions. You can not tell me that Mr. Bencomo didn't realize that his actions could cause his dismissal. He, however, pushed the limits and now has caused, not only his dismissal from the school, but unnecessary harm and challenge to the school and church. I don't see this as someone who 'loves' his place of employment or the church he teaches for. To allow this controversy to continue and not speak against the protests from students and others, just shows that he has an agenda. This is not loving. I am not Roman Catholic, but I do see this as an assault on religious freedom.
Steve Slakey August 08, 2013 at 12:02 AM
A private institution does have the right to determine what it expects of its employees. This teacher was known by the school to be gay, school staff had met his partner, and he had a long, successful tenure at the school. The school administration (which, by the way, distributed a grammatically incorrect statement as to the school's mission) had no problem until the teacher married and had his photo published in a local paper. In other words, all was OK with the administration until "the secret" was out. Then, of course, they had to scramble around, first, to put and end to the "scandal" and, second, to brazen their way through an explanation for their actions. Does this ring a bell? It's pretty much how the Church handled its molestation scandal. Cardinal Mahoney says he prays for the victims of priestly molestation. Why didn't he, and why doesn't St. Lucy's, treat people fairly and properly instead of covering their rear ends?
Phoenix August 13, 2013 at 03:52 PM
Relevant blog post from today; recommended reading! http://www.stevegershom.com/2013/08/yoiks-and-away/

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