The San Bernardino Sun reported that 45-year-old Ken Bencomo, who was head of the English department at St. Lucy's Priory High School in Glendora as well as the school's yearbook supervisor and a dance coach, was let go from his 17-year position even though school officials had been aware of his sexual orientation for several years.
The school said that it fired Bencomo because his same-sex partnership violated Catholic Church doctrine. Bencomo had lived with his homosexual partner for ten years, and the two were among the “the first gay couples to line up at the San Bernardino County Assessor-Recorder's Office to get married July 1 following a Supreme Court decision allowing same-sex marriage,” reported the Sun.
Bencomo's attorney, Patrick McGarrigle, said that the teacher's gay relationship was not a secret to school officials. “St. Lucy's has known of Mr. Bencomo's orientation for years,” McGarrigle said. “Administrators had been introduced to his partner in the past, so the suggestion that Ken's orientation is a surprise or that his lifestyle somehow violated doctrine is at odds with the school's knowledge and what seemed to be acceptance of him until most recently.”
The school released a statement after Bencomo's firing went public, explaining that as a Benedictine school, “St. Lucy's is a community for those who wish to express Christian values in education and develop personal and academic excellence.”
Pressed on specifics of the case, school officials said in the statement that “we respect and protect privacy interests and, to be respectful of those involved, the school does not comment on confidential matters.” They added that “St. Lucy’s wishes to reassure all in our community that upholding its mission to educate students in the tradition of the Catholic faith is of paramount importance.”
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