Go away, gay

Matt Westerhold
Jan 20, 2014

The firing of Brian Panetta as the St. Mary Central Catholic High School band and choir director is one sad story, on so many levels.

The saddest part, perhaps, is the school had the courage to hire Panetta nearly five years ago likely knowing from the beginning he was gay. That was a courageous step for a Catholic school, and Panetta thrived as director, doubling the size of the band and giving it back its “Panther Pride.”

From a believer's perspective, one might think God had a lot to do with Panetta getting hired in the first place; he served those students for 4½ years and nobody has even suggested he did not serve them, and their families, well. He, and they, both appear to have prospered from the experience.

Men and women who don't have faith often envy those who do and wish they too could be believers. From a non-believer's perspective, however, the decision to fire Panetta might appear to be a man-made occurrence in defiance of the universe, in defiance of God.

Click here to read related articles and watch interview with Panetta

It wasn't an easy decision for the school and church doctrine appears to mandate that Panetta be cast aside and sent away from the parish he loved and the parish that loved him. Panetta could have stayed as long as he didn't make a “public” statement about who he really was, as long as he agreed to deny his own self-worth in front of the God who created him, and the world.

It's difficult for many to understand that hide the sin-use the sinner hypocrisy. It creates an image of Panetta being cast out in shame from the great institution St. Mary's is, and always has been, despite past difficulties with real sexual misconduct involving priests.

There also likely have been gay parishioners who gave a lifetime of devotion to the church and school, and past staff members at St. Mary's, who, as long as they denied their own sexual identities, were allowed to “sin” and prosper in the faith.

Making good people hide their true selves, for people of faith, must be like forcing them to deny God's perfection in creating them differently than he created others. And it's likely those past people of faith struggled with that every day of their faithful lives.

Understanding God is easier, perhaps, than understanding church doctrine, and the decision to fire Panetta does appear to have come more from outside Sandusky, and even outside the reach of the Toledo Diocese..

Again, these were difficult decisions made in the clash of 2,000-year-old tradition and belief system against the modern enlightenment that every person — regardless of orientation — has the right to love and marry the person they choose, and to love God.

But the battle over words that ensued after Panetta was fired, over the terminology to describe the separation and who made the decision, also seemed disingenuous. It was a speak the lie-hide the truth approach. Panetta was fired. Period. If they agreed to let him return, he likely would be at the school Monday morning.

Initially, school officials seemed to want to make it clear that Brian resigned, and was not fired. But firing someone one day and giving them the chance to resign a week later or remain fired is still a firing. It's sad that the “public face” they hoped to portray is not the “true face.”

There was a similar word game as to where the decision was made, with the Diocese initially suggesting it was a local decision, and local school officials suggesting it was forced by the diocese. In the end, the edict likely comes from Rome, and the men and women involved here appear to have tried their best to do what they felt compelled to do.

And one last time, these were difficult decisions in a changing world involving a religion that cherishes its traditions and beliefs and is slow to change or evolve. Local decision makers and the Diocese missed an opportunity to speak truth and foster a change that many — including Catholics — believe is needed.

Panetta seems to be a person more clear in his convictions who knows who he is, as a man, as a teacher, as a Catholic and as a musician and future spouse to Nathan than most of us do.

And he should know, his presence in Sandusky has changed us and sparked a conversation that might never have happened without him. It is truly a teachable moment, as he suggested, and the lessons for his students, especially, and for the community at large, will be reviewed and considered by many for a long time to come.

Watch the "between the Lines" interview with Panetta




"Still disagree, you can postulate all day long, still disagree and believe you are dead wrong. You don't always have to be right you know. "

Translation: Stop trying to confuse me with facts and logic and reasons - I'm happy with emotion-based naked assertion, I've made up my mind, and the last thing I want to do is think or critically examine my position.


Look everyone not only is Nemisis the last word on faith and Catholicism he is now psychic too, he can read my mind. Another ticked off snob who has had his/ her entire little world blown sky high when finally at long last he/she is being confronted . Awwwwww

John Harville

Nemesis... so glad you finally admitted it.

John Harville

ConBabo.... how many people pay to be on this blog?

John Harville

Matt... someone is doing research outside Sandusky.


I am not from this area, but I live here now. I find it quite sad that this paper SR, decides to push it's views on it customer's. EVERY day or at least 1 time per week you having something about Gay rights, I just wish you would stop having articles about it. Regardless if you agree with someone's views, we don't need to see SR's views every day on one topic.


Are you kidding me????? No let's just post recipes.

John Harville

dear nogoal... You need to get out more. Sandusky likes to keep its collective head in the sand.
Key word is 'customers'. If you don't want to, DO NOT read the paper - there are others.
If you don't want to read the opinions, DO NOT read the opinions.
The Sandusky Register is to be commended...or should they not cover that Sandusky County story about the OHP cop who watched porn and masturbated with a young boy to 'teach him about sex'?
Yeah... let's just keep that covered up - especially since the Sandusky County Prosecutor thinks it shouldn't be prosecuted because 'the officer might be able to present a defense that what he did was okay'.


“That which is hateful to you, do not unto another: This is the whole Torah. The rest is commentary — [and now] go study.”

- Hillel


A HS band director getting fired in the middle of the school year would get reported by the local newspaper of any small town, don't you think? I have not seen anything in the SR reporting that promotes a gay-agenda: they simply reported the story as it happened and will continue to update their readers as it continues to plays out. Don't blame the messenger.


Discussing politic and religion generate a lot of comments online. I have witnessed shouting matches and even physical assaults such as fist fights when discussing religion or politics.

Here are some links to generate more comments and discussion.

"A former activist in the gay rights movement who left homosexuality for a relationship with God in 2007 has drawn the ire of homosexual activists after marrying a woman on Oct. 26."

"Intersex” is a general term used for a variety of conditions in which a person is born with a reproductive or sexual anatomy that doesn’t seem to fit the typical definitions of female or male."

"How a 'gay rights' leader became straight"


Threats now??? Things must be very dicey over in the boardroom at SCCS. lol. Stop trying to intimidate people for standing up for someone, who not one of you could hold a candle too, or standing up for a cause and up to bullies. More SHAME upon the heads of the Catholic community. Threats and intimidation are the ways of Christ.


Re: "Threats and intimidation are the ways of Christ."


"Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn 'a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law--'" (MT 10: 34-35)

John Harville

"He who loves his father or mother...son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me..." - also from MT 10. So?


Centauri: I think reasonable people can disagree on this or any other related subject-- nothing wrong with having a honest difference opinion. After all, this article was an "opinion piece". The author offers his insight as a member of the Sandusky community. A respectful conversation is always healthy when it comes to hot topics like this, and it does not mean that anyone has to change their mid....but it can mean that we understand the issue a little bit better. I do.


Leviticus is often quoted as the place in the bible where homosexuality is an abomination, a sin. But he also goes on to say "And the man that commits adultery with another man's wife, even he that commits adultery with his neighbor's wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death."--King James version. Pardon my indiscretion, but if we applied Leviticus literally across the board how many people would be left in Sandusky?


Mr. Westerhold, the author said, "The saddest part, perhaps, is the school had the courage to hire Panetta nearly five years ago likely knowing from the beginning he was gay."

Well Mr. Westerhold, what IF they didn't know that he was gay? You're making your entire argument based on an assumption. As a professional writer, you should be able to formulate sound arguments. This is not a good argument because it is not based upon fact.

This well has been dry for a while, the Register needs to let it go. There's a reason why I don't buy their paper.

John Harville

OSUAV8TER "There's a reason why I don't buy their paper."

yeah, cuz you read it here for free - kinda like stealing, huh?


No SR don't report news because it makes some in the community uncomfortable, let's just cover up horrible misdeeds. Stick to your day job OSU you would make a lousy newspaper man.


Look at you Sugar, trolling everyone's posts writing stupid stuff. Clearly you are a imbecile with a pretty pathetic agenda; trash talking everyone.


Post something that isn't trash than.


Newsflash: The president of Seattle's Eastside Catholic School has resigned amid the fallout from her decision to dismiss the school’s vice principal for marrying his gay partner. Read more:


John Harville

The times they are a'changin'


I wanted to post this here too, so people could see it, in response to Sanduskymom's earlier rant:

1- I have a pretty good feeling that the initial tip to the SR about Mr. Panetta's firing actually-- oh my God, NO!-- came from within the school community itself.

2- The alumni group only found out about the real reason for Mr. Panetta's departure when a member with close ties to the school, a former school board member, posted the real reason. Yes, how about that! And anyone who is a member of the group then can confirm this.

3- The petition through change.org was started by another person. I simply linked it to the blog. Check it!

I did not give this story legs. Once the Sandusky Register published the original story, it was beyond question that it was going to go viral: any story of this nature does in 2014. And sure, I kept track of the stories as they appeared, so? Everyone who is interested in this matter has been keeping up with developments.

In the SR article I never claimed to speak for the band alumni group, and the Hire Brian Back blog has a disclaimer in it that it is not associated with the group. Read the article again, please!

When news of Mr. Panetta's departure broke, there was a heated debate within the Facebook band alumni community: Some wanted this kept hushed, some wanted details, others were outraged and wanted to do something about it, hence the petition...And many alumni members did sign it, their real names on record. The moderator of the group chose to let the discussion go forward. And, as they say, the rest is history. And there you have it.


Wonder how long it will take for the president here to resign!


Sugar- people closely associated with the school seem happy, at least publicly, with her and her vision for the school. All I can say is that I respect that. I will just leave it at that. Nite!

John Harville

Dc... obviously you are talking to different 'closely-associated with the system...'

And there is that contract clause that got Brian... that prohibition against 'publicly speaking' and taking 'public' action. Be not fooled. Donors already are withholding contributions.

MCES was 'happy' with her vision... until they weren't and she left after a year.

But you gotta do what you gotta do, blow the place up then walk away and leave it smoldering.



John- I'm reflecting reality. As I talk to people who still have ties to the school...well, how can I put this-- Okay, here it is: they seem more upset that the story got out. Denial is a powerful thing. You know when reading the Toledo Blade's account of all the things that happened in the Toledo Diocese, which St. Mary is part of, I come with the following impression: people's inability to absorb the idea that unjust things can happen within the Catholic community.


Bottom line, the guy signed a contract that states he must live by a specific moral standard and he broke the contract, so he got fired...get over it...he chose this not the Catholic Church

John Harville

Dorian... gray in the details. The contract doesn't state a specific moral standard... the Catechism doesn't even state a specific moral standard except to love those attracted to the same sex... and counsel them and pray for them and ourselves.
what part of the contract did he break?