Kristen Nelson was a softball coach for five years at West Catholic High School in Michigan — until she wanted to get married.
When it became known Nelson wanted to marry her partner, a ‘parent concern’ materialized. It resulted in conversations with both the school and Roman Catholic Diocese of Grand Rapids. Consequently, Catholic leaders gave Nelson an ultimatum: if she got married to a woman, she wouldn’t have her job anymore.
So Nelson chose to resign.
On Friday (23 February), she explained her decision in a Facebook post.
After 5 seasons I will no longer be continuing to coach Softball at West Catholic, and this is why.
Following an ‘unpleasant conversation’, Nelson explained: ‘It was made known to me that my future plans to marry my partner, Maria, were “concerning” to them.’
Nelson graduated from West Catholic High in 2008.
‘I always wanted and intended to give back to the community my family and I have always loved and supported. Although I feel, and believe you would agree, my sexual orientation has never conflicted or hindered my ability to perform my coaching duties, unfortunately, leadership does not agree as such, and I no longer feel welcome.’
She added her disappointment and wished ‘the best for our players’.
Nelson could not ‘lead by example’
On Sunday (25 February), West Catholic High School made their own Facebook post.
They wrote they were ‘saddened and disappointed’ by Nelson’s decision to resign.
‘When someone is living outside of Church teaching or participating in behavior not in line with Church teaching and makes it known publicly, they cannot fulfill their primary mission to lead by example,’ the post reads.
‘It does not mean that we are judging this individual or that she is not a welcome and beloved member of our community. She is. The public act of same-sex marriage, not her same-sex attraction, is the focus of Church teaching. It is not only people who experience same-sex attraction who are called to live chastely, but all of us. No one is excluded from the call of Christ. The teachings of the Church are written for happiness.’
However, Nelson’s partner, Maria Roberts, criticized the decision.
This is the only statement Kristen has received from the Diocese. After 5 coaching seasons, 4 years of high school,…
‘Your students will remember this, their parents will remember this. The players will remember how you pushed away their coach, how you ripped a role model from their lives, how you made it clear that you may preach love but contradict yourself time and time again.’