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 Arizona Christian University/Facebook

(LifeSiteNews) — A Christian university is suing a local school district and its board members for ending a long-term partnership because student teachers believe in the traditional family as God created it. 

On Thursday, Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) filed a lawsuit on behalf of Arizona Christian University (ACU) arguing that the Washington Elementary School District abruptly ended an 11-year, mutually beneficial partnership because student teachers from the university — who received hands-on training in the district — do not bow to the LGBT agenda. 

For the past decade, ACU students studying to be teachers have worked as student teachers within the district, actively learning their trade while providing additional support to the public school system. However, all five board members, who are named as defendants in the lawsuit, voted to abandon the agreement last month. 

“This civil rights action seeks to protect a Christian university and its students’ fundamental rights to religious exercise and speech and to be free from unlawful governmental discrimination simply because of their religious status and beliefs,” the lawsuit states. “Despite there being zero complaints about an Arizona Christian student teacher or alumnus, the School District decided to terminate its relationship with Arizona Christian and its students solely because of their religious status and beliefs on biblical marriage and sexuality.” 

On February 23, the district’s board “decided not to renew” its Student Teacher Placement Agreement with the university “because the Board disagreed with Arizona Christian’s religious beliefs.” During a school board meeting, members of the board criticized ACU students for its beliefs. 

Tamillia Valenzuela quoted ACU’s website to highlight that the school’s mission is to “above all else be committed to Jesus Christ accomplishing His will in advancing His kingdom on Earth as in heaven.” She then asked if this mission aligned with the school district’s “vision” to “achieving excellence for every child, every day, every opportunity.” 

Another value laid out by ACU is to “influence, engage and transform the culture with Truth by promoting the biblically informed values that are foundational to Western civilization, including the centrality of family, traditional sexual morality, and lifelong marriage between one man and one woman.” 

“I want to know how bringing people from an institution that is ingrained in their values … will … impact three of your board members who are a part of the LGBTQ community,” Valenzuela said. “We have added our pronouns at the dais as a solidarity—let our LGBT community know, that we stand, in making sure that they feel protected.” 

She added that having “legal contracts” with schools that stand for their religious beliefs “makes me feel like I could not be safe in this school district,” alongside “other queer kids.” Valenzuela urged the district to ask, “is this school value aligned with what we’re trying to do and making sure that all of our students feel safe?” 

Kyle Clayton, another board member, said that “I just don’t believe that that [a Biblical worldview] belongs in schools and I would never want my son to talk about his two dads and be shamed by a teacher who believed a certain way and is at a school that demands that they teach through God’s … their biblical lens.” 

Board President Nikkie Gomez-Whaley explained that her hesitation to continue working with ACU is “this particular institution’s strong anti-LGBTQ stance and their strong belief that you believe this to your core and you take it out into the world.” She added that “we owe it” to gender-confused individuals not to “continue to align ourselves with organizations that starkly contrast our values.” 

After hearing these comments from the board, all five members voted to end the partnership with ACU, “strictly because of their religious status and beliefs” and “despite having zero evidence of any incident by an Arizona Christian student that violated any School District policy,” according to the ADF’s lawsuit. 

“The School District’s actions and practice, policy, or procedure has caused Arizona Christian reputational harm by conveying to prospective and current university students that obtaining an education degree from Arizona Christian can and will diminish their job prospects,” the lawsuit added.

ACU is seeking a declaration from the court that the terminated agreement breached their constitutional rights as well as a preliminary and permanent injunction ordering the district to “reinstate and approve” the agreement for the 2023-2024 school year and bar the district from further discrimination against ACU and their students and staff, particularly by refusing to grant them opportunities within the school system. 

Compensatory, nominal, and punitive damages are also requested from the district and the board members. 

“By discriminating against Arizona Christian University and denying it an opportunity to participate in the student teacher program because of its religious status and beliefs, the school district is in blatant violation of the U.S. Constitution, not to mention state law that protects ACU’s religious freedom,” ADF Senior Counsel and vice president of U.S. litigation David Cortman said. He added that district leaders “force [ACU] to choose between its religious beliefs and partnering with the area’s public schools,” causing the university “irreparable harm.” 

As members of the education field around the world have begun caving to the LGBT agenda, those who take a stand against gender ideology, many of whom are Christian, are attacked as advocates for hate and violence. During the COVID-19 pandemic, a Christian chaplain in the U.K. was removed from his position for preaching a homily outlining the Christian stance on the LGBT agenda and ideology. Consequently, he was accused of being a “terrorist.” 

In December, a Canadian teenager began facing tremendous backlash and a suspension from his Catholic school after leading a protest against policies allowing gender-confused boys in girls’ bathrooms. Contrarily, a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit in January which argued that religious universities exempt from supporting the LGBT ideology are inherently discriminatory against gender confused students.  


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