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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, September 24, 2010 - Volume 38 Issue 39
Lesbian dean marries, is forced to resign
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Lesbian dean marries, is forced to resign

by James Whitely - SGN Staff Writer

Christine Judd, a dean at Cathedral High School in Springfield, Massachusetts, was forced to tender a resignation after marrying her partner last month. Although Gay marriage is legal in Massachusetts, it is not approved of or recognized by the church.

Judd told the local paper in Springfield, The Republican, that she met with school officials and was given the choice of resigning or being fired from her position of dean of students and athletic director.

The diocese claims that she violated the church's code of conduct, referring to its employee handbook that states, in part: "Whenever, by public example, an employee engages in or espouses conduct, which contravenes the doctrine and teaching of the Church, such employee may, at the sole discretion of the Roman Catholic Bishop of Springfield, be subject to disciplinary action up to and including dismissal."

Judd announced early September that she will take no legal action against the diocese.

"I knew the risks every day of my life working at Cathedral," Judd said. "I always had the understanding: One day, it would be time to leave Cathedral because of this."

"I chose to get married," Judd went on to say. "I did my best to leave Cathedral in a proper manner before something like this happened. There is no reason to go after anybody."

Judd has been an employee at Cathedral High School for 12 years.

The diocese has been mostly silent throughout the affair, stating only that the diocese was thankful to Judd for her service and wished her well.

Judd's resignation has spurred an outcry from community members, the students, and alumnae of the school, as well as local LGBT organizations.

"I think it's just awful," said Rachel Beery, a senior at Cathedral. "She was the biggest part of our school. She legit bled purple [the school's color] for us. Everyone in the school is so upset about this."

T.J. Gentile, a junior, said Judd will "definitely be missed. & I don't think things will be the same without her."

Judd's colleagues from the athletic department shared their sentiments, as well.

Joe Pantuosco, who retired last year after 32 years as a boys soccer coach, said Judd's "primary concern each and every day was always, 'Kids first.'"

"I am a big advocate that she was one of the most positive people in that school," Pantuosco said. "I was very surprised to hear the news; she was one of the key administrators in the school. She was young, enthusiastic, and just good for the school."

Dan Walsh, the school's cross-country coach and a former athletic director, said Judd "put her heart and soul into Cathedral."

"She'd do anything for the kids. She'd be in early in the morning and then late at night to get the job done," said Walsh.

Tom Burke, a former basketball coach a graduate of the school himself, called Judd a "tremendous person, who did the work of two and probably got half a person's pay for it."

Michael Bixler, a parent whose child is a sophomore at the school, said he is "really quite sad about it."

"It really gives me pause," Bixler told The Republican. "What does it mean to be true to who we are & to treat someone who has given admirable service so disrespectfully?"

Judd claims that she will not pursue legal action against the dioceses out of respect for the time she has spent at Cathedral High and because of her admiration for the school and for the Sisters of St. Joseph, who guide the school.

"They [the sisters] molded me into what I am today, my beliefs in Catholic education," said Judd. "They embraced me, never asked me any questions."

Judd added that while an employee of the diocese can be Gay, individuals are not allowed to "practice homosexuality" - which marrying a same-sex partner represents - under diocese doctrine.

She did clarify, however, that she is keeping open the possibility of legal action against the person or persons who shared information with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield that triggered the initial pressure from the diocese for her to resign.

Judd has declined to be more specific, but said that a photograph relating to her wedding was apparently provided to the diocese.

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