Eastside students inspire us all
January 17, 2014
Mark Zmuda is not going to be re-hired. The Catholic Church is not suddenly going to embrace marriage equality.
And yet, the students at Eastside Catholic who are speaking out on Zmuda’s behalf just might be changing the world. These teenagers have learned the lessons of loving their neighbor far better than the school that was teaching it to them.
Just before Christmas break, the students found out Zmuda, a popular teacher and coach, was going to be let go because he married another man over the summer.
The students rallied, walking out of class and starting a movement that has captured attention nationally and internationally.
The school may have been within its rights to let Zmuda go – it shouldn’t have, if his sexual orientation was the only reason – but it was within its rights.
The student’s response, however, has been inspiring. Other schools, both Catholic and public, have joined in the cause. There have been demonstrations scattered across the region. The students, having applied their lessons of democracy, are taking their concerns to the top. Through peaceful demonstration and petition writing, they are demonstrating that they have learned to accept people who choose a different personal lifestyle.
But more than that, they’ve learned not to stand idly by when others are being marginalized. And they haven’t stopped. A couple weeks off during winter break did not slow the momentum. A petition with 20,000 signatures will go to the Archdiocese this week.
Whether or not the Catholic Church takes notice almost doesn’t matter. These students will be the next generation of leaders, both in and outside the church.
That the students are willing to stand for something beyond themselves is beautiful. Hopefully, as they grow older, they will retain the passion to make a difference.
Zmuda won’t likely get his job back, and the church won’t change its religious doctrine. But as these teens become adults and take on civic leadership roles, our community will be a better place because they spoke up.