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School Superintendent Comes Out Under Threat From Christian Group

Pittsburgh's Action News 4 SCREENSHOT CARIE ROWE

Education executive Carrie Rowe was accused of "firing Christians to push a homosexual agenda."

A school superintendent came out during a dramatic school board meeting on Monday in Beaver, Penn. Carrie Rowe's announcement followed a Christian group demanding her resignation for "allegedly firing Christians to push a homosexual agenda," according to Pennsylvania's The Times.

"I'm gay," Beaver Area superintendent Carrie Rowe announced during the school board meeting. "I wanted to say that straight away because it's likely the reason many of you are here tonight."

Rowe was placed in an untenable position by former Beaver councilman Luke Berardelli, who held a rally in support of reinstating Beaver Area High School principal Steve Wellendorf. The former principal was placed on leave in August for reasons that remain unclear. Berardelli claimed that Rowe fostered a "toxic" culture and targeted members of a Christian Youth Group, with which Wellendorf is associated.

"I have worked in education for 20 years and in that time, I've never addressed my personal life because [being gay has] never been relevant to my job," Rowe said as she came out publicly to avoid being outed in retaliation for Wellendorf's being placed on leave. "To be honest, it's still not relevant, however, there is a very vocal minority in this community who have decided to take my sexuality and use it as a cudgel against me."

Rowe, citing LGBTQ youth suicide rates, added that she also came out for the welfare of her students.

"I care about this district and all our students and I care too much to remain silent any longer," Rowe said. "As your superintendent, I tell you, no matter who you are, who you love, where you worship, if you worship, what your racial background is, what your disability status is, you have a safe space here. I will make no room for hate."

Wellendorf was placed on leave for "personnel matters" as a matter of policy, Solicitor Janet Burkardt told The Times. He was put on leave via the superintendent and not the school board, she added, although she could not offer details about why the decision was made.

The heated school board meeting included people arguing on behalf of Rowe -- and Wellendorf.

"Dr. Rowe is extremely professional," a senior at Beaver Area High School Zoltan Nemeth said.

Another student, Dominick Reagan, added, "She tries to make (school) a comfortable environment for everyone."

Meanwhile, Berardelli continued to advocate for the school principal, calling Wellendorf an "unbelievable man of incredible character and incredible integrity."

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