"What this couple experienced is a lack of tolerance and acceptance to them, to their relationship and to their children"
The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation, the educational arm of the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, condemned the actions of a non-denominational private school in Nashville that refused to consider Brian Copeland and Greg Bullard’s children for enrollment because their parents are a same-sex couple.
Copeland and Bullard, a church pastor, arranged to visit Davidson Academy in anticipation of their son’s entrance into pre-kindergarten because they wanted their children to have a faith-based education. But they received a letter canceling the visit after the Christian school learned that they are a gay couple. Copeland shared the letter on Facebook.
In an interview with The Tennessean, Copeland said they went public with their situation "not to harm the school," but because they wanted to show that "discrimination and inequality is alive and well.”
“I want to make that very clear. We want our children to have a Christian education, and we're finding that very, very hard," Copeland told the newspaper.
Despite the tensions that often exist between religious institutions and the LGBT community, LGBT Christians are increasingly claiming their place within religious spaces, confirming that they do not have to choose between who they are, whom they love, and what they believe. Moreover, HRC Foundation’s Welcoming Schools program has demonstrated that curricula aimed at reducing gender-based bias can work hand-in-hand with a faith-based education.
“What this couple experienced is a lack of tolerance and acceptance to them, to their relationship and to their children,” said David Coe, head of St. Stephen’s Episcopal School Houston, the first parochial school in the country to partner with HRC Foundation’s Welcoming Schools.
“Frankly, I see it as an affront to Christian values. We at St. Stephen’s Episcopal School Houston, celebrate the diversity of our student body and their families. We value individuality, faith and all kinds of families as they create the foundation for a better education. It is my prayer this couple will eventually find a welcoming school in Nashville, and I wish them the very best.”
Ellen Kahn, Director of the HRC Foundation’s Children, Youth and Families Program, commended Copeland and Bullard for “facing discrimination with grace and dignity.”
“The school contradicted its own Christian values with this decision - discrimination is not a Christian value,” Kahn said. “We sincerely hope that Davidson Academy will not only recognize their mistake, but also engage in efforts to make their school a more welcoming and inclusive environment for all children and their families.”
More information about Welcoming Schools can be found here; the school program will be among those featured next month at HRC’s Time to THRIVE conference for educators and youth-serving professionals.
The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. HRC envisions a world where LGBT people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work, and in every community.
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