A Pennsylvania superintendent recently came out as a lesbian in a heartfelt personal address at a school board hearing.
Carrie Rowe, superintendent for the Beaver Area School District, said her coming out was fueled by protests from a group claiming she was “allegedly firing Christian employees to push a homosexual agenda.”
“I’m gay,” Rowe said at the forum, which had been moved to the auditorium to accommodate the crowd. “I wanted to say that straight away because it’s likely the reason many of you are here tonight.”
She insisted she hasn’t addressed her sexuality or personal life in 20 years of working in education because it wasn’t relevant to her job. “To be honest, it’s still not relevant,” she added. “However there is a very vocal minority in this community who have decided to take my sexuality and use it as a cudgel against me.”
Before Monday’s meeting, former Beaver councilman Luke Berardelli organized a demonstration in support of Steve Wellendorf, a principal placed on paid leave last month. While the exact reason for the suspension is being labeled a “personal matter,” Wellendorf is involved in a Christian group called Young Life.
Berardelli alleges there is a “toxic” anti-Christian culture in the district and has called for Rowe’s contract not to be renewed. She insists her only agenda is the well-being and education of her students, including those who identify as LGBTQ.
“I tell you, no matter who you are, who you love, where you worship, if you worship, what your racial background is, what your disability status is, you have a safe space here,” Rowe said. “I will make no room for hate.”
Despite the rain, demonstrators for both sides gathered outside Beaver Area High School. Inside, attendees spoke in support of both Wellendorf and Rowe, in a public comment period that was filled with both shouting and tears.
Solicitor Janet Burkardt told the Times Online that Wellendorf’s departure was dictated by policy and not intolerance. But she conceded the decision was ultimately based on Rowe’s recommendation, not a school board vote.
What do you think of what went down with Superintendent Rowe at the school board meeting?
Photos via The Times Online of Beaver, Penn
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