An online petition voicing anger and disappointment over the resignation of Totino-Grace High School president William “Bill” Hudson, who revealed that he was in a committed same-sex relationship, has been signed by more than 400 people, many of them school alumni.
The petition, begun by Sara Graham, a 2000 graduate of the Catholic school in Fridley, seeks to assure any gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender students that “you are a part of OUR community — one that embraces love, equality and acceptance.”
Graham posted the open letter on the change.org website after it was revealed on Tuesday that Hudson had voluntarily resigned his position. In a release issued by the school, Mark Motzel, a co-president of Totino’s corporate board, stated that while Hudson’s work was excellent, “living in a committed same-sex relationship is not consistent with the teachings of the Catholic church.”
While taking issue with the church’s stance on homosexuality, Graham’s letter noted that Totino-Grace did provide a “welcoming community” to most students — an opinion shared by a longtime former employee, Marge Beauvais, who taught religion at the school beginning in 1978 and retired as campus minister in 2007.
“There is a huge disconnect” between the school’s supportive atmosphere and the church’s attitudes on homosexuality, Beauvais said. “The school is right dab in the middle, and not just this school, but all Catholic schools.”
Beauvais had high praise for Hudson, with whom she worked from 2004 to 2007. She said that she did not know that he was gay and that she never heard any speculation about his sexuality.
“It’s not an issue,” she said. “Do we go around saying, ‘Is that person heterosexual?’ ”
Motzel, asked Wednesday about the alumni petition, said in a written statement: “Anyone who has been through Totino-Grace is a member of a strong community. We have and will continue to care deeply for every member of our community.”
In a statement this week, Hudson said that while the decision to resign was “heartbreaking and painful,” he also found it “freeing to be open about the most important thing in my life. … I am excited to now be able to focus on my two children and my partner of 18 years as my first priority.”
Tuesday’s announcement also led to creation of a Facebook page.
Graham, who is a lesbian, said Wednesday that she knew of alumni who were switching their financial gift-giving from Totino-Grace to GLBT organizations. She acknowledged, too, that some were holding back on such a protest, saying they did not want to hurt current students.
“But,” Graham said, “money talks.”