Ouster sparks community support

Man forced to resign after announcing gay wedding plans.
Alissa Widman Neese
Jan 12, 2014
Area residents flocked to social media Saturday to voice opinions on the forced resignation of a local school’s band and choir director, an act prompted by his plans to pursue a gay wedding with his partner next year.

A majority of comments on the Register’s website, Facebook page and Twitter feed appeared to be in support of Brian Panetta, an esteemed director who was forced to resign this week during his fifth year of employment at Sandusky Central Catholic School.

Comments also sparked several heated debates about Catholicism and gay marriage.

Click HERE for the original story

Many readers speculated Panetta could take legal action against the school regarding the situation.

But when contacted Saturday, Panetta made it clear he will not pursue any legal action against Sandusky Central Catholic School, for “numerous reasons.”

“First and foremost, I care deeply for the school, its faculty and especially the students,” Panetta said. “Secondly, I just want the truth to be understood and for there to be no confusion as to why I can no longer continue my work at SCCS. This is a teachable moment and I am a teacher above all else.”    

On Jan. 3, Panetta told Sandusky Central Catholic School president Melody Curtis that he and his partner were engaged to be married. Panetta told Curtis an end-of-the-year resignation might be the most appropriate way to ensure no conflicts occurred regarding his gay marriage, he said.

All school employees must sign a contract stating they will live a lifestyle according to the Catholic faith, Panetta said.

He received an unsigned letter of termination just hours after the discussion, stating he violated the contract and the church’s teachings.

Almost a week later, however, an agreement between school administrators and representatives from the Catholic Diocese of Toledo allowed him to resign instead, reversing the initial decision to fire him.

The Register first reported the story Friday night and in less than 24 hours, it netted more comments than any story posted to its website this week.

“I’m usually proud to be a Panther alumni,” said Charlene Hunscke Allen, one of the first commenters on the Register’s Facebook. “This is not one of those times.”

Many school supporters referenced Panetta’s contract, which he knowingly violated with his engagement.

In response, others addressed the complicated issue of Panetta’s contract, and questioned whether school employees violating other Catholic teachings should also be fired or forced to resign.

Panetta’s five-year relationship with Nathan David, his fiancé, wasn’t a secret to the Sandusky Central Catholic School community, as David often attended school events and met several students and their families, Panetta said.

“The contract doesn’t say, ‘you are allowed to be gay, but you’re not allowed to get engaged to the same sex,’” a commenter on the Register’s website said. “He broke the contract the minute he signed it, and they did nothing.”

Regardless of their opinions, most students and parents who knew Panetta spoke of his dedication to the school’s band and choir, which he more than doubled in size during his time at the school.

“I can speak for the entire student body that Mr. Panetta was one of the greatest teachers at that school,” Brandi Budd said on the Register’s Facebook. “It’s a shame because that school will never find a teacher that will care and love his students like he did.”

Saturday evening, 13abc Action News in Toledo aired a clip referencing the Register’s story and also linked to it on the news station’s website, where it gained significant traffic.


Who am I to judge?
Sandusky Central Catholic School’s decisions involving its band and choir director come at a pivotal time in the Catholic Church’s history.
Pope Francis, elected this past March, was quoted often in 2013 for his progressive, groundbreaking comments regarding several divisive issues, including gay marriage. His blunt message, as most theologians interpret it: Catholics should spend less time arguing about these issues, and more time loving others.
In July, when asked how he would respond if he learned a cleric in his ranks was gay, Francis responded, “Who am I to judge a gay person of goodwill who seeks the Lord?”
“You can’t marginalize these people,” he said.
In September, Francis spoke of the Catholic Church’s need to make the church a more welcoming place for all, specifically by placing less emphasis on its “small-minded rules” about abortion, gays and contraception, according to an Associated Press article.
During the statement, he said it is “not necessary to talk about these issues all the time,” and asserted the need to emphasize compassion and mercy over condemnation. “The most important thing is the first proclamation: Jesus Christ has saved you. And the ministers of the church must be ministers of mercy above all,” Francis said.
Section 2357 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church states homosexual acts are contrary to natural law, because they do not allow the creation of life, and cannot be approved under any circumstances.
Sections 2358 and 2359 state individuals with homosexual tendencies are called to chastity, and must be “accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity” because of their inclination, which is “objectively disordered” and “constitutes for most of them a trial.”
“Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided,” section 2358 states.



I didn't have him sign the contract, so whether he told me or not is irrelevant. If the school has their teachers sign contracts to uphold Catholic doctrine then they have to apply it consistently, therefore if they fire Mr. Panetta they must fire every other teacher who falls out of that narrow definition. That's discrimination.


And neither of you have read both articles, and neither of you have any inside knowledge.


Should there be a third bathroom for the third gender?


We'll dcfred20036 sounds to me like you have some unresolved issues with the Catholic Church and Smcc maybe you should address them separately and not drag Mr. Panetta into to your issues. I have a question that only Mr. Panetta can answer if Smcc would offer him his job back would he take it or has he already moved onto something better? And if that's the case and as he said he has no intention to sue the school I think he has moved on and so should you.


Sugar I have read both articles, so I guess you must have assumed he was gay by having a male friend. Umm shame on you stereotyping him....

Kottage Kat

Do priests sign a contract?


Today it is not easy to reach and teach kids in the classroom. Obviously this man has a tremendous ability to do that. He loved his job and the kids he taught loved him. That's the dream of every teacher in the classroom today. It's unfortunate that we have to lose this kind relationship that benefits so many of the students at SMCC.

I have no doubt he will find another position and once again give so much to the next generation it just won't be at SMCC.

Dr. Information

The liberal mindset: Fire Phil Robertson for voicing his belief on gay marriage/sex even though he didn't break any of A&E's rules, or his contract or physically hurt or threaten anyone. The libs were on here screaming for A&E had every right to fire him.

Now that the shoe is on the other foot, its not fair. St. Mary's had every right to fire him. This band director violated his contract and thus was fired. Fence jumping liberals at their best.

The Answer Person

Three questions for you Dr.:
1. Will on staff lesbians also be terminated?
2. Since president Melody Curtis is new, doesn't it appear that she is the one with the homophobic issue since there was no apparently no problem with Mr. Panetta until her arrival?
3. Will all others who have knowingly and in violation signed employment contracts with St. Mary's that violate their "morals" now be investigated/terminated? Or is that "OK" because they are heterosexual? i.e. "Well, that's different."?

It is a pathetic tragedy for you that you will never know the beauty and love of being what you negatively call people, i.e. "LIBERAL"! YES!!!

Dr. Information

It totally depends on what their contract says. 1. Unless the school is to place cameras in everyone's home to see what they are doing in their bedroom life, it will be hard to go after any homosexual who is living with and in a relationship with someone of the same sex. This case is different. This man is openly announcing his planned marriage to another man, thus violating his contract. 2. Maybe Mr. Panetta turned a blind eye. Still doesn't negate the fact of contract violation. 3. The school has the right to investigate or terminate anyone and if they have enough evidence to provide. What heterosexual OKs are you referring to.

Liberals want everything their way and when they don't get it they cry foul. They have painted their own picture.


I believe that divorce is not against the Catholic religion. Now if you get divorced and it is not annulled through the church then it would be a sin to get remarried.


Correct. A divorce is a legal separation. Only the Church can grant an annulment for a Catholic to then remarry within the Church.