Benet Academy under fire for rescinding job offer to lacrosse coach after learning she is gay
Benet Academy's administration has come under fire following its decision to rescind an employment offer to the new girls lacrosse coach after learning that she is gay.
The Lisle Catholic school reportedly hired Amanda Kammes, a Benet alum, but rescinded the offer when her paperwork included her wife's name as her emergency contact. Prior to accepting the position at Benet, Kammes served as head coach at Montini Catholic High School in Lombard.
A demonstration in protest of Benet's decision was held on Monday morning outside the school.
"Benet Academy respects the dignity of all human beings to follow their conscience and live lives of their choosing," the school said in a statement. "Likewise, as a Catholic school, we employ individuals whose lives manifest the essential teachings of the Church in order to provide the education and faith formation of the young people entrusted to our care."
Opposition to the decision gained significant momentum over the weekend with more than 2,100 Benet alumni, parents and students signing an online letter condemning it and addressed to members of the school's leadership.
"We write to express our dismay and anger at the news that Benet Academy recently declined employment to an otherwise qualified candidate on the basis of her marriage to another woman," the letter said. "In your statement on this matter, you contend that 'Benet Academy respects the dignity of all human beings to follow their conscience and to live lives of their choosing.' And yet this hiring decision suggests quite the opposite. By rejecting a talented potential staff member on the basis of whom she loves, you have utterly failed to uphold the principles of dignity and charity that you purport to practice as (a) Christian institution."
Kathleen Jensen was one of roughly 50 alums, parents and colleagues who gathered outside the school on Monday to protest Benet's decision to pull Kammes' employment offer.
"Why is Benet being discriminatory? In 2021, it is shocking to me," said Jensen, a Benet Academy alum and mother of a current student and lacrosse player. "The fact that other Catholic schools are willing to have Amanda on their staff, it has really shined a light on it being a Benet problem, not a Catholic school program."
Benet on Monday released a statement that the "board of directors is meeting today and the school will have a statement Tuesday."
In a Facebook post, Colleen Savell, Benet's assistant girls varsity lacrosse coach, said Kammes "went through the interview process, was fully qualified and received an offer from the athletic department to be the head coach. Amanda had already passed a background check, completed all necessary certifications that Benet required and received approval from the principal. All the head of school had to do was sign off on her paperwork."
Shortly after turning in her paperwork, she was notified that she would not be the head coach, Savell said.
"Amanda and parents have reached out numerous times to the school to request more information about why her employment was rescinded, but Amanda was sent a template email letting her know that she has been rejected from the job. Amanda has tried reaching out to the head of school many times to figure out why she was rejected from the job and she has received silence," Savell wrote in her Facebook post.
Kammes has been involved in lacrosse for a decade at both the high school at college levels.
She was named the head varsity girls lacrosse coach at Montini in February. She also serves as a partner and chief operating officer for Lakeshore Lacrosse, a female-run organization dedicated to female athletes.
Kammes began her coaching career as a high school assistant in Pennsylvania before moving to the University of California, Davis, where she served as first assistant and recruiting coordinator for the women's lacrosse team. She later returned to Pennsylvania where she was the head coach at two high schools and a club team.
Kammes has a master's degree in nursing from Benedictine University. She is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, where she was a point guard on the basketball team. She was an assistant basketball coach for her alma mater after serving as an assistant coach at American University.
• Joshua Welge of Shaw Media contributed to this report.