An Anglican school in Bedford, Texas, has denied admission to the 4-year-old daughter of a lesbian couple who wanted to enroll the girl in preschool.
In a statement, the dean of St.Vincent’s Cathedral School in the Dallas suburb said the school is standing on its principles in “matters of marriage and sex outside of marriage” by rejecting 4-year-old Olivia Harrison. The school said its decision was based on what is considered best for all students and “in conformity with scripture and our own church’s doctrinal standards.”
Jill and Tracy Harrison were married in Canada in 2006. When Jill filled out admission forms to enroll their daughter, Olivia, into the Anglican school, she wrote her name next to the word “mother” on the forms. She crossed out “father” and wrote in “mother” next to Tracy’s name as well.
School officials said they assumed Tracy was a man. But after the couple attended parents’ night, Olivia was denied admission.
In a swift response, Olivia’s mother, Jill Harrison, announced that this was “fine with her.” Tracy Harrison said she and her partner thought St. Vincent’s could give little Olivia a good education and impact “the basic Bible teachings…follow the Golden Rule, the Ten Commandments, be kind to your neighbor.” She added “The God that I know and the God that I love will love me and love my children no matter what.”
As someone who was raised in the Christian church, (my father was a Church of England minister), I can absolutely affirm that the behavior of St. Vincent’s Cathedral School is not Christian. Steve Williams wrote here a few weeks ago about novelist Anne Rice’s decision to quit the established Christian church because of how the religion is increasingly being used to push an agenda that is anti-gay, anti-feminist and anti-science. This school seems to fit right in here.
Schism within the Episcopal Church
A bit of background here: the Episcopal Church is facing a split, with some dioceses accepting of gays and lesbians, and some not. In fact, the Episcopal Church selected openly gay Gene Robinson to be a bishop in 2003. The Church of England also accepts gays and lesbians into the church, and actively works against the fear, discrimination, or condemnation of homosexuals.
However, St. Vincent’s is part of a conservative movement that broke away from the U.S. Episcopal Church in 2008, in part over their positions on gay and lesbian rights. Kenneth Monk, head of the school, put it this way, “We are a church affiliated with the Anglican Church in North America, and it is their policy that we don’t provide services to individuals or families that do not behave properly.”
The Last Word
In response, Tracy Harrison stated, “I am horribly disappointed. In fact, we are in the 21st century and we are still dealing with this issue. We should just move on.” She continued, “It’s hard to believe that a place that’s supposed to take in and teach children about God and the basics of religion would actually discriminate against her because of who we are.”
Her moms have already enrolled Olivia in a secular school where same-sex parents are okay.
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