SAMMAMISH, WA, January 10, 2014 ( – A Catholic school in Seattle is allowing a lesbian drama coach to keep her part-time job after taking international flak for successfully demanding the resignation of its vice principal after he violated his hiring contract by entering into “marriage” with another man.

The move puts officials at Eastside Catholic School’s (ECS) at odds with the Archdiocese of Seattle, which oversaw the removal of gay vice-principal Mark Zmuda in December.

Zmuda, an administrator and swim coach, was popular among students. His December 20 resignation provoked a mass demonstration among students who demanded he be reinstated, as reported earlier this week.


The day after Zmuda submitted his resignation, drama coach Stephanie Merrow publicly announced she was lesbian and engaged to “marry” her partner. Merrow said she made her lesbian engagement public to support the student protests.

“It was the kids. I was extremely proud of and supportive of the kids and the way they handled this,” she told King5 news.

“I’m doing this to support the kids, and what the kids are trying to do is get to the Pope and change the church,” she said.

High School President Sister Mary Tracy appears to be sympathetic to Merrow, allowing students using social media to quote her as follows: “I look forward to the day where no individual loses their job because they married a person of the same sex.” Tracy confirmed the quote as accurate to King5.

School trustees explained in a recent open letter that Zmuda agreed to resign after violating his signed contract to abide by Catholic Church teachings spelled out in the ECS Employee Handbook.

The handbook states that ECS “is a Catholic school, and our faculty and staff must accurately and faithfully teach and express Catholic Church teachings and values at all times. Further, the public behaviors of our faculty and staff must at all times be consistent with the values and teachings of the Catholic Church.”

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“When Mr. Zmuda married his same‐sex partner, the school administration was left with no acceptable alternative that would allow him to remain eligible for employment at Eastside Catholic School,” stated trustees. “Mr. Zmuda agreed that he would resign from Eastside Catholic School.”

Following Zmuda’s resignation Catholic students organized demonstrations where they held signs that read: “I support Mr. Zmuda and all gay Catholics that face discrimination” and “same sex = same love.”

One sign quoting Pope Francis read: “If someone is gay…who am I to judge. Keep Mr. Z.”

Since Merrow is not a contracted employee, it is not clear if she was required to sign the ECS’ guidelines.

Catholic teaching holds that marriage has been created by God for the purpose of a man and woman uniting for life to create and rear children. Christianity holds that homosexuality is a perversion of God’s plan and immoral.


Eastside Catholic School
President and Head of School
Sister Mary E. Tracy
Ph: 425-295-3040
E-mail: [email protected]

Archdiocese of Seattle
Archbishop J. Peter Sartain
Ph: 206-382-4560
Contact using online form here.