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Published: Friday, 5/3/2013

Notre Dame alumnae take to social media after speaker disinvited from May Crowning

BY TOM TROY
BLADE POLITICS WRITER
Brittanie Kuhr crowns a statue of Mary in 2009. Brittanie Kuhr crowns a statue of Mary in 2009.
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Notre Dame Academy's decision to revoke a speaking invitation to an alumna who is engaged to marry another woman has generated an outpouring of outrage on social media.

The academy's leadership responded today with a statement insisting that it revoked the invitation to 2009 graduate Brittanie Kuhr not because of her sexual orientation but because of her advocacy of same-sex marriage.

Ms. Kuhr, of Sylvania, a senior at Adrian College, was to speak at the May Crowning on April 26 at the Toledo Catholic girls' school. The May Crowning is an annual event at Notre Dame and many other Catholic schools in which a senior girl places a crown of flowers on a statue of the Virgin Mary.

Gail Christie, spokesman for the local high school, said a senior always gives a speech and sometimes an alumna is invited to speak.

A synopsis of events posted on the newly created Facebook page, NDA Eagles for Equality, said that Ms. Kuhr "was provided the opportunity to speak to current faculty, staff, and students about her strong relationship with Mary during May Crowning 2013."

"Less than 24 hours before she was set to speak, she received a call from NDA uninviting her to speak due to her "public engagement" to another NDA alumna, Allison Steele (Class of 2003)," the statement said.

The news has triggered an outpouring of responses, most apparently supportive, on the NDA Eagles for Equality Web site. The group, which was started on Wednesday, has 1,200 members.


PHOTO COURTESY OF WWW.TOASTYALI.COM Enlarge

The group's statement said, that, "While the decision has been made and Brittanie did not speak at May Crowning as planned, we as LGBTQA alumnae are determined to not let this blatant act of discrimination prevent current and future generations of NDA students be pushed further back into the closet."

A photo posted on Ms. Kuhr's Facebook page shows her placing the crown on Mary's head in 2009.

Ms. Kuhr's statement below the picture is, "How dramatically things can change in 4 years. Including my openness about my sexuality. Surprising to many: my faith has remained a constant. NEWSFLASH: Catholicism and homosexuality ARE NOT mutually exclusive!"

Ms. Christie said NDA President Sr. Mary Ann Culpert would not be available for comment.

"As a Catholic school, Notre Dame Academy supports the teachings of the Catholic Church. That means ensuring that programs, resources, and presenters that we choose to represent Notre Dame Academy will also support those teachings. This situation involved the contradiction between public advocacy for same-sex marriage and Church teachings, not the sexual orientation of the speaker," the statement said.

"The timing of our decision, for a variety of internal reasons, was extremely unfortunate and we have acknowledged and accepted responsibility for the distress and sadness we caused," the statement said.

Contact Tom Troy at: tomtroy@theblade.com or 419-724-6058



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