GLENDORA (CBSLA.com) — A protest was held Thursday in support of a gay Catholic school teacher who was fired from his job shortly after he legally married his partner.
Former students of English and dance teacher, Ken Bencomo, held a 9 a.m. demonstration at St. Lucy’s Priory High School in Glendora, asking administrators to give the beloved teacher his job back.
“Come with powerful voices, ready to sing our Alma Mater and show the SL administration— ‘We Are That Change!'” the group’s Facebook page said.
After 17 years of teaching, Bencomo was fired July 12 — less than two weeks after he married his partner, Christopher Persky, in San Bernardino. Pictures of the couple’s wedding were featured in a local newspaper article about Prop. 8.
Bencomo supporters say the 45-year-old was discriminated against because of his choice to marry his partner.
“I believe very strongly in equal rights and in justice, but aside from that, Mr. Bencomo is an amazing teacher,” protest organizer and former student Brittany Littleton told KNX 1070’s Jon Baird.
The school said it does not comment on confidential personnel matters, however, it did release a statement saying it educates students in the tradition of the Catholic faith.
“While the school does not discriminate against teachers or other school employees based on their private lifestyle choices, public displays of behavior that are directly contrary to church teachings are inconsistent with these values,” the statement, published in the Los Angeles Times, reads. “These values are incorporated into the contractual obligations of each of our instructors and other employees.”
Bencomo’s attorney said his client’s marriage violated the school’s teachings and an online petition has garnered more than 48,000 signatures in support of the teacher’s reinstatement.
Despite the protest about Bencomo’s termination, parents of current and past students are backing the school’s stand.
“They hold true to the teachings of the Catholic church,” Karen Amagrade, mother of four St. Lucy students, said.