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Fired gay teacher: Glendora school sticks with decision despite rally

August 8, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
A Catholic high school in Glendora is sticking with its decision to fire a gay teacher despite a large rally held Thursday.

"I'm here to support gay rights. I'm supporting Ken Bencomo's right to marry his partner," said Alicia Doktor, an alumni of the school.

Bencomo was fired from his teaching job at St. Lucy's Priory High School about 10 days after he married his partner, Christopher Persky. The couple married on July 1, shortly after the Supreme Court allowed gay marriage in California, and the wedding was featured in a local newspaper.

Bencomo, 45, taught at the all-girls Roman Catholic high school for about 17 years. He was the head of the English department and led the yearbook and dance squad.

"I was honestly disgusted knowing that he was fired for that reason," said Emily Pound, a student.

Glendora police prepared in case things got out of hand, but the event remained peaceful. Outside the school, a sign was posted that read, "We support St. Lucy's 100 percent."

School officials say they had known Bencomo was gay for years, but when a local newspaper featured the wedding, the teacher violated his contract and the school's moral code.

"The teacher signed a contract. The teacher not only violated it, but he made sure the entire world knew about it, and it forced the school to do exactly what they did," said neighbor Doug Boyd.

In a statement, the school made it clear that they are sticking with their decision.

"In the spirit of democracy, the administration of St. Lucy's Priory High School recognizes and thanks the community for voicing their opinions in a spirited and peaceful manner," the statement says. "Hopefully, we can now most past this issue and concentrate on providing a quality education for the young women who have enrolled at St. Lucy's to seek, practice and adhere to values in education based on the Roman Catholic tradition."

Students say even though the protest did not get the school to change its decision, they're going to continue circulating the online petition to reinstate Bencomo. So far, they have collected nearly 50,000 signatures.


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