Lawyer: N.M. Christian School Illegally Denied Child of Two Dads Entrance
Officials from a Christian school in New Mexico refused to enroll a child because his parents are gay, even though the school accepts federal funding, the Albuquerque Journal reported.
The three-year-old boy’s two fathers tried to enroll him in Hope Christian School but officials sent the family a letter that stated the child was denied because of his parents’ sexual orientation.
"Same gender couples are inconsistent with scriptural lifestyle and biblical teachings," the letter sent to the family read. "Home life doesn’t reflect the school’s belief of what a biblical family lifestyle is."
Shane Youtz, an attorney who represents the family, says the school is violating New Mexico’s Human Rights Act but the family hopes the school’s officials will change their decision and accept the three-year-old. Youtz also said the issue can be resolved without any legal action.
The state’s Human Rights Act prohibits discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations on the basis of sexual orientation.
Albuquerque’s ABC affiliate news station KOAT7 reported that the letter also stated the school is private and is free from "excessive governmental interference in matters of religion." But the school will receive more than $60,000 in federal tax dollars during the school year.
KOAT7 also points out Hope Christian School qualifies for money under federal guidelines.
Peter Simonson, executive director of the American Civil Union of New Mexico, said he believes that institutions that discriminate should receive money from the government.
"We don’t think agencies that discriminate or use religion to discriminate should be receiving our federal or government funds," Simonson said. He also says public schools should not use taxpayer money to promote religious curriculum.
But Al Sanchez, director of grant management at Albuquerque Public Schools, believes Hope is eligible to receive public funding and claims the school would have to fail to comply with specific conditions, such as failing to properly train teachers, to not receive federal money.
New Mexico does not recognize marriage equality but does have anti-discrimination and hate crime laws that protect on the basis of sexual orientation.
In June a court ruled that a professional photographer who refused to take pictures of a gay couple’s commitment ceremony violated the Human Rights Act, the Associated Press reported. The photographer’s company, Elane Photography, was ordered to pay nearly $7,000 in legal fees.
Watch a video of KOAT7 reporting the story below: