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US: Lesbian part-timer allowed to work at school that fired gay teacher

Stephanie Merrow is engaged to her female partner of five years

Part-time musical coach Stephanie Merrow, who is engaged to her female partner, will reportedly be allowed to continue working at a Washington State Catholic school that fired its gay vice-principal after he married his partner. Credit: screen shot from KIRO TV

As students of a Washington State Catholic school continue to agitate for the reinstatement of a gay vice-principal who was forced out after marrying his partner, a part-time musical coach found out Jan 7 that she will be allowed to continue working even though she is engaged to her female partner, King5 News reports.

A Komo News report noted that Stephanie Merrow, who said she'd been hired to work on an Eastside High School musical, was concerned about her employment status after Mark Zmuda was let go.

An attorney for Eastside, Michael Paterson, had said Zmuda resigned after the school found out about his marriage. But in an interview with a student, Zmuda says that contrary to initial reports, he was fired.

Zmuda's dismissal sparked protests Dec 19, with Eastside Catholic High School students walking out of class or not bothering to show up, chanting, "Keep Mr Z" and "Change the church." Catholic schools in surrounding areas also staged various forms of protest in support of Eastside students.  

Unlike Zmuda, Merrow's conditions of employment reportedly don't address obligations to adhere to Catholic doctrine governing matters like marriage, leaving her to wonder if she'd be treated differently, Komo News says.

While the school's principal had said Merrow was not contracted for the current academic year, Merrow maintained that her work status at the school had not come to an end and showed KIRO News a document from the school that backed up her contention.

The school's president, Sister Mary Tracy, announced Jan 7 that Merrow can continue working at Eastside following meetings with both the school board and students who said they didn't want a repeat of what had happened in Zmuda's case. 

King5 reports that students are planning a nationwide "Mr Z" day Jan 31.