Immaculata Catholic School in Durham discovered that a number of groups planned to protest Vernetta Alston, who was invited by the school to speak Friday at a Black History Month Event. The school’s website said the school was closed and that classes and events were canceled, reports BuzzFeed News.
“Regrettably, I understand from a variety of sources that a number of groups are planning demonstrations at our school that day to register their respective opinions regarding Vernetta Alston,” Father Christopher VanHaight said in a letter to parents. “As
Alston, an Immaculata alumna, tweeted a letter expressing disappointment that she was no longer invited to speak.
“Immaculata is a religious institution and I believe strongly in the freedom to believe and worship how one chooses, even if a belief conflicts with something fundamental to my own life,” Alston wrote on Thursday. “That said, adherence to that basic principle means that I can freely say that the Church, by depriving the students at Immaculata of the chance to honor black history, and in doing so, condemning the lives and rights of the LGTBQ community, is sending a sad, regressive, and life-altering message to our children.”
In a statement to BuzzFeed, the school’s African American Heritage Committee said it was “stunned, frustrated, and extremely disappointed” over the news.
“Sadly, a few expressed concerns about Ms. Alston’s presence at our school,” the committee said. “Questions were raised about her sexual orientation and her public stance in support of gay marriage as contrary to Catholic doctrine. In response to these concerns, church authorities rescinded Ms. Alston’s invitation to speak.”