Bowing to public outcry, St. Mary's Academy has agreed to broaden its hiring policy, with the board announcing it "has added sexual orientation to its equal employment opportunity policy."
It's still unclear what that policy change means—both for the school's faculty or for Lauren Brown, the woman St. Mary's fired this month after learning she's gay.
Brown's attorney, Gloria Trainor, tells WW that St. Mary's has not contacted Brown to offer her job back.
St. Mary's Academy president Christina Friedhoff says that's because the school already gave Brown's job to somebody else.
"In preparation for school, which starts on Monday, we offered another candidate the position," Friedhoff says. "We will be reaching out to Ms. Brown and Ms. Brown's attorney and are open to further discussions with her about reconciliation."
The policy announcement shows the Catholic all-girls school is rethinking its decision to withdraw Brown's contract, a move school officials said was because Brown planned to marry her girlfriend. (Brown says she's not engaged, and merely asked the school what would happen if she got married.)
WW reported Brown's story Tuesday night. In the day since, Mayor Charlie Hales, Oregon State Treasurer Ted Wheeler and major donors Mary and Tim Boyle have called on the school to reconsider its decision.
The last 24 hours held a remarkable and dizzying turn of events for St. Mary's, Portland's oldest private high school and one of its finest.
Parents, students and alumni expressed alarm today that a school dedicated to educating young women in diversity and social justice had been quietly forcing its LGBT faculty and staff to remain in the closet.
But by reversing its policy on LGBT hiring, St. Mary's could be risking a war with its Catholic supervisors, including Portland Archbishop Alexander K. Sample, a staunch foe of same-sex marriage. Sample aggressively defended the school's decision today, while denying he played any part in it.
The school's plans to move forward could become more clear Thursday, when it plans to hold three meetings with parents and their daughters, the first at 8 am.
Friedhoff released a statement tonight shortly after The Oregonian reported the policy change.
This evening the board of St. Mary’s Academy voted unanimously to support the administration’s recommendation to amend and broaden St. Mary’s policy on equal employment, bringing our employment policies in line with our mission and beliefs. Effective immediately, St. Mary’s has added sexual orientation to its equal employment opportunity policy. St. Mary’s is a diverse community that welcomes and includes gay and lesbian students, faculty, alumnae, parents and friends, including those that are married. We are proud of our work preparing the next generation of women leaders for service and leadership. We are still deeply committed to our Catholic identity.