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Arizona School Board Bans Christian Student-Teachers

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
Ben Margot

An Arizona public school district says they will no longer hire student-teachers from a Christian university. 

The Washington Elementary School District voted unanimously to end a partnership with Arizona Christian University because of the school’s religious beliefs. 


The school district said the university’s values posed a threat to LGBT students. 

“We cannot continue to align ourselves with organizations that starkly contrasts our values, and say that we legitimately care about diversity, equity and inclusion and that we legitimately care about all of our families," said school district president Nikkie Gomez-Whaley.

Three board members identify as members of the LGBT community — including Tamillia Valenzuela. She wears cat ears and identifies as a bilingual, disabled, neurodivergent queer black Latina. 

I know it’s a lot to take in.

The school district released a statement defending its decision:

“The Washington Elementary School District (WESD) Governing Board is committed to creating a welcoming environment for all our students, families, and staff. While we recognize the right of individuals to practice their faith, public schools are secular institutions. To that end, the board unanimously voted to discontinue its partnership with Arizona Christian University (ACU) whose policies do not align with our commitment to create a safe place for our LGBTQ+ students, staff, and community. This is not a rejection of any particular faith as we remain open to partnering with faith-based organizations that share our commitment to equity & inclusion.”


Ms. Valenzuela says she has a problem with the university’s call for their students to be committed to Jesus Christ and to transform culture. 

Arizona Christian has provided student teachers for the past 11 years without any issues. 

But Board Member Kyle Clayton - who is also gay - says they don’t want educators to teach through a biblical lens.

In other words, Washington Elementary School District is openly discriminating against Christians. 

“The school board's recent decision to ban ACU students from serving as student teachers was done for one reason only: our University's commitment to our Christian convictions," said Arizona Christian president Len Munsil. "That's wrong, it’s unlawful, and it will only hurt the district’s students. Religious liberty and freedom of conscience are bedrock American principles. We are exploring our options to defend the rights of our students.”

Munsil said the university has partnered with the school district for years and more than 100 students have served in the classroom. 

"Administrators have time and again asked us to send more ACU students because of the quality of our students' work and their love and servant's hearts for all. The school board's recent decision to ban ACU students from serving as student teachers was done for one reason only: our University's commitment to our Christian convictions," he said. 


It's flat-out discrimination. 

Just consider how the nation would have reacted had the school district banished LGBT staffers from its classrooms. 

If there's room for teachers who fly the rainbow flag, there must be room for teachers who fly the Christian flag. 




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