Reporting Esme Murphy
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Former students of a Twin Cities Catholic high school are responding Wednesday to its president resigning after admitting to being in a committed same-sex relationship.
Totino-Grace High School President Bill Hudson resigned from that position Tuesday after telling the board he’s gay. At least one former student is responding with a petition, and some alumni are upset and taking action. However, others are showing their support, like the Catholic Archdiocese.
They issued a statement saying, “We offer our prayers and support to the leaders and families” of the school during this time of transition.
Hudson told school leaders he’s been in a committed same-sex relationship for nearly two decades. That conflicts with Catholic teaching the Fridley school is built on, so he’s resigning Friday. He was president for nine years at the school.
Jackie Graham her husband, two children and daughter-in-law went to Totino- Grace. She is upset.
“It’s a Catholic school. They have always opened their arms to everyone,” she said. “It’s never been solely based on the Catholic faith.”
Now, she said she is not sure if her 13-year-old granddaughter will go to the school.
“It was always assumed she would go to TG,” she said. “This may have some bearing on that decision.”
For Jackie Graham, it’s personal — her daughter Sara, a Totino alum, is gay.
Sara Graham graduated from Totino-Grace in 2000 and will be getting married to her partner later this year, once gay marriage becomes legal in Minnesota.
Graham started a Facebook page and petition in support of Hudson that’s spreading quickly. She just posted the petition late Tuesday night and by noon, it already had nearly 200 signatures. She wanted to be very clear that while her petition expresses anger against the way she feels the school played a role in Bill Hudson’s resignation, she said it’s really about giving positivity to a community that hits home for her.
In the petition, Graham calls Dr. Hudson’s resignation “disappointing, saddening, infuriating and exasperating.” She said she felt it was a decision encouraged by the school. Hudson said his resignation was voluntary.
“We don’t feel a part of this community that we spent four years being a part of. Our teachers and administrators were amazing and were for the most part very welcoming, and I’d like to think that the school is still like that. I’d just like those students to know that we’re there, that we’re here,” Graham said.
Twin Cities comedian Scott Hanson, another alum, criticized the school on his Facebook page saying, “this exclusion is wrong.” Totino grad Colleen Arendt, now a professor in Connecticut, is urging others not to donate to the school.
“Totino-Grace was a great school to go to,” she said. “It feels like a very sad day.”
Kathy Tunheim is the CEO of the international PR firm Tunheim partners.
“The school has the same problem that the Catholic Church has — it has a belief system that is not supported by a tremendous number of people,” she said.
She said the school handled a difficult situation as best it could.
“The principal did the principled thing to stand up for his own beliefs and the institution has to be transparent about what theirs are and this is the consequence,” Tunheim said.
Dr. Hudson didn’t want to talk on Wednesday.
He said Tuesday the situation, while heartbreaking and painful, is freeing him to open up about his personal life.
The Totino-Grace Corporate Board President issued a statement saying, “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.”