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After public outcry, Benet Academy reverses course, offers coaching job to woman in same-sex marriage

The west suburban Catholic school offered Amanda Kammes’ job back after a Monday evening meeting by the school’s board. She has accepted.

Benet Academy located at 2200 Maple Ave. in Lisle, Ill.
Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

A west suburban Catholic high school has offered a coaching job to a woman who had been initially turned down when the school learned she was married to another woman — a reversal the coach and school community praised as the right thing to do.

On Tuesday, Benet Academy said it offered Amanda Kammes the job of girls’ lacrosse head coach after a Monday evening meeting of the school’s board of directors. Kammes has accepted the job at the school, which enrolls 1,300 students.

“The board has heard from members of the Benet community on all sides of this issue over the past several days,” the school said in a statement.

The school acknowledged it had previously rescinded the job offer “upon learning that she is in a same-sex marriage.” But it added that the board “determined that Ms. Kammes’ background and experience made her the right candidate for the position.

“Going forward we will look for opportunities for dialogue in our community about how we remain true to our Catholic mission while meeting people where they are in their personal journey through life,” the school said. “For now, we hope that this is the first step in healing the Benet community.”

A veteran lacrosse coach and Benet alum, Kammes was offered the head coaching position at the school about two weeks ago, but the offer was rescinded after she listed her wife as an emergency contact. She was reportedly not given an explanation as to why at the time.

Eileen Galvin Healy, vice chair of the school board, said by phone Tuesday that the board met Monday in an advisory capacity in hopes of being able to “reconcile the situation.”

She said while the board didn’t have a comment on the original move to rescind the job offer, she personally was pleased with the school’s decision to reverse course and hire Kammes.

“We are inclusive and loving of all people,” Healy said.

In a statement issued after the reversal, Kammes said “never in my life have I been prouder to be a Redwing. The past week provided a chance for Benet to rally together in the name of community, sportsmanship, and social change, and I’m beyond grateful that Benet reconsidered their decision.”

The statement continued: “I am truly humbled at the outpouring of support. This community is full of highly intelligent, driven, socially aware and passionate people who will always stand up for what is right. I am encouraged, ready to move forward and coach Benet’s girls’ lacrosse team to success.”

Kammes previously coached lacrosse in Pennsylvania, leading a team to two state titles, and most recently coached at Montini Catholic High School in Lombard while also running the Lakeshore Lacrosse program in the Chicago area.

Benet Academy located at 2200 Maple Ave. in Lisle, Ill.
Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

Students and parents had protested outside the school Monday, handing out rainbow masks to fellow classmates.

Supporters of the coach also created an online petition calling for Kammes’ reinstatement and for Benet to implement new, more inclusive policies. The petition had more than 4,100 online signatures as of Tuesday afternoon.

Colleen Savell, an assistant lacrosse coach, said she was “beyond excited” at the news.

“I know that the girls on the team [and] the parents are just absolutely thrilled,” Savell said. “I just hope that the LGBTQ community at Benet does feel supported and that they know that they have so many people out there that really care about them.”

St. Procopius Abbey, which has operated Benet Academy in Lisle for 120 years, declined to comment late Tuesday.

Contributing: Nader Issa