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Ousted gay band director continues fight

Alissa Widman Neese • May 30, 2014 at 9:25 PM


St. Mary Central Catholic High School's fired band director hopes to secure a conversation with the Supreme Pontiff of the Catholic Church.

Brian Panetta, who lost his job in January after announcing plans for a gay wedding, is one of nine U.S. teachers who signed a letter to Pope Francis, requesting a Papal audience to discuss homosexuality.

Click HERE for past stories about the fired band director

The Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest civil rights advocacy group for LGBT individuals, delivered the petition to the Vatican on Tuesday.

"We respectfully submit that it is time for our Church to reflect on how it treats lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Catholics, and the family members who embrace them," the letter reads. "Love thy neighbor as thyself is at the foundation of the gospel and the Church's social teaching, and yet we are not treated as neighbors."

The letter addresses the growing number of gay teacher firings at Catholic schools across the nation, as well as the feelings of alienation that follow.

All teachers who signed the letter identify as Catholic.

"While Catholics are among the most welcoming and embracing of all people of faith, the hierarchy is doing an incredible amount of damage by emotionlessly wielding discriminatory policies against faithful Catholics," it reads. 

Those joining forces with Panetta include five gay teachers from across the U.S. whose schools fired them for marriage plans. 

Its three other signatures belong to a trio of Cincinnati-area teachers who resigned in protest of a new employment contract, which for the first time detailed specific practices the Catholic school employees couldn't publicly support, including "gay lifestyles."

At Sandusky Central Catholic School, Panetta signed a similar contract, which school officials and representatives from the Catholic Diocese of Toledo cited following his departure.

It's ultimately unclear who fired Panetta, who was in his fifth year of employment. School officials attributed the decision to mandates from the diocese, but its representatives claimed the decision was a local choice.

After word spread of Panetta's firing, he was later allowed to forcibly resign, he told the Register. 

Soon after, the story attracted national attention.

A copy of the Human Rights Campaign's letter is available below

Watch a January interview with Brian Panetta in the player below

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