Home Christian News LGBTQ-Affirming School District Bans Student-Teachers From Arizona Christian University

LGBTQ-Affirming School District Bans Student-Teachers From Arizona Christian University

A district official told school board members that student-teachers from ACU sign agreements to not proselytize or discriminate against any children.

Board President Concerned About Anti-LGBTQ Stance, Not Christians

Nikkie Gomez-Whaley, president of the school board, admits she should have asked more questions about the longtime contract. “For me, this is not a concern about Christianity,” she clarified. “There are plenty of Christian denominations who are LGBTQ-friendly… My pause is not that [the student-teachers are] Christian so much as this particular institution’s strong anti-LGBTQ stance, and their strong belief that you believe this to your core, and you take it out into the world.”

Signing an anti-proselytizing agreement isn’t enough, according to Gomez-Whaley. “I simply don’t know how a piece of paper can change somebody’s underlying value system,” she said. “How do you shut off an essential part of your being, and not be biased to the individuals in which you are in charge of nurturing and supporting unconditionally? I don’t see how that disconnect is possible.”

Because the school district stands for diversity, equity, and inclusion and claims to “legitimately care about all of our families,” Gomez-Whaley concluded, “we cannot continue to align ourselves with organizations that starkly contrasts our values.”

Board Members Accused of ‘Absolute Discrimination’

Horne, the state superintendent, called the ban “an absolutely outrageous violation of people’s religious rights.” Horne, who is Jewish, cited a Jewish expression: “He who expects respect has to give respect.”

State Sen. Anthony Kern also took aim at the vote, saying board members are “impugning the motives of teachers with certain religious beliefs.” Kern called the move “absolute discrimination” because it jeopardizes First Amendment rights.

Munsil, Arizona Christian University’s president, says the university’s 11-year partnership with the school district has been productive and incident-free. Many student-teachers eventually land jobs with the district. “Administrators have time and again asked us to send more ACU students because of the quality of our students’ work and their love and servants’ hearts for all,” he says.

Citing America’s core principles of “religious liberty and freedom of conscience,” Munsil adds that the Glendale-based university is “exploring our options to defend the rights of our students.”

Tanner DiBella, president of the American Council, says keeping ACU student-teachers in the elementary district “would surround kids with educators who value love, kindness, goodness, morality, integrity, and peace.” His organization “is committed to pour financial resources into the Washington Elementary School District School Board Race in 2024 to elect competent, balanced, and family-centered leaders who focus on education and not politics,” he tweeted.