Across the street from Mt. Erie Baptist Church in San Diego is Mt. Erie Christian Academy, an elementary school whose student population has just decreased by one due to institutionalized homophobia.
The parents of a 5-year-old girl were recently notified that their daughter would no longer be able to attend the school, where she’d also gone to preschool and summer camp.
Why? Because this girl has the audacity to have two moms, a fact her parents Lashaune and Sheena say was already known throughout the church community.
“They told us, ‘oh this is not about your child,’ but it is about my child,” said Sheena, who asked that her last name not be used.
“If we knew from the beginning that this was unacceptable, they didn’t condone or believe in this, if it was such a big deal, we would have never started her off there,” she continued. “I would never put my child’s emotional wellbeing in an unstable setting like that.”
Just a few days before school was to start, Lashaune and Sheena were called into the school for a meeting with the pastor.
After a prayer, he broke the news.
“It was heartbreaking,” Sheena said. “I didn’t finish the conversation with them when they took us in the room because I just, I didn’t want to look at them any longer. I just couldn’t believe that they did that.”
The school’s nondiscrimination policy was revised in June 2015, and now reads:
Mt. Erie Christian Academy is a religious, Bible-believing institution providing education in a distinct Christian environment, and it believes that its biblical role is to work in conjunction with the home to mold students to be Christ like. On those occasions in which the atmosphere or conduct within a particular home is counter to or in opposition to the biblical lifestyle that the school teaches, the school reserves the right, within its sole discretion, to refuse admission of an applicant or to discontinue enrollment of a student. This includes, but is not necessarily limited to, living in, condoning or supporting sexual immorality; practicing homosexual lifestyle or alternative gender identity; promoting such practices; or otherwise having the inability to support the moral principles of the school (Leviticus 20:13a; Romans 1:21-27; Matthew 19:4-6; I Corinthians 6:9-20).”
Current law gives private religious institutions, including schools, carte blanche to adopt and enforce any policy they claim is in line with their religious beliefs, including showing a 5-year-old the door because her parents are gay.
Some, like San Diego attorney Eugene Iredale, think that might change in the next five to ten years if a case like this were to be brought before the Supreme Court.
“Now the question is where do you draw the line?” Iredale said to local 10 News. “If you have a religion that believed in human sacrifice or amputation of the arm or the hand for theft, would we permit that in the interest of permitting the free practice of one’s religion? I don’t think so, and one could argue that psychologically… this is as devastating to the little 5-year-old girl as some of those other vicious practices.”
Meanwhile, Sheena and Lashuane’s daughter just wants her life back.
“I miss my friends. I miss my teachers,” she said.