Protests over resignation of West Catholic softball coach

Posted at 6:19 PM, Mar 02, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-02 18:19:37-05

**Editorial Note**

Our original version of this story identified the protesters as students.  That was incorrect reporting and we apologize to West Catholic High School and the Grand Rapids Catholic Diocese for the mistake.  The story has been corrected and updated.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Protesters rallied Friday afternoon at Grand Rapids West Catholic High School after a popular softball coach stepped down last week.

Kristen Nelson resigned last week after a conflict with the Grand Rapids Catholic Diocese which operates the school.  Nelson had expressed her desire to marry her long-time partner, another woman.

On Sunday, the Diocese provided the following statement on the situation at West Catholic High School:

As a mission of the Catholic Church, Catholic schools are places where students come to learn and know the Church’s teachings, one of which is the definition of marriage as a union between one man and one woman. For this reason, Catholic school administrators, teachers, or staff members that persist in public acts that are contrary to Catholic teachings disqualify themselves from the opportunity to continue in their leadership role within a Catholic school.

Bishop Walkowiak is grateful to the leadership team of West Catholic High School for working with staff to ensure that the Catholic faith is presented in a way fully in accord with the teachings of the Catholic Church.

Kristen Nelson graduated from West Catholic High School in 2008 and says her sexual orientation has never conflicted with or has hindered her coaching abilities.

I am hurt and mostly disappointed that I will no longer be able to continue, but I hope you can understand that I simply cannot continue to work in an environment that refused to support me. I know we have made some big plans for the program this year and I am very sorry that I will not be able to see them through.

Nelson had been a softball coach at the school for five years.

A small group of people protested outside the school Friday afternoon and at the weekly Lenten Fish Fry Friday evening.