Arizona School District Rejects Christian Teachers

An Arizona school board voted on a motion to dissolve its partnership with a Christian university after a board member expressed her opposition to the collaboration over their religious beliefs.

Prior to the agreement, The Washington Elementary School District had an ongoing contract with Arizona Christian University. Under the contract, student teachers from the biblical school are to be placed in The Washington Elementary School District for field experience for a period of five years.

However, during the board meeting, school board member Tamillia Valenzuela stood against the partnership and said she was upset when she learned about it.

Wearing rabbit ears at the meeting, Valenzuela described herself as “a bilingual, disabled, neurodivergent Queer Black Latina… who loves a good hot wing (but only with the right ranch) and things that sparkle.”

Valenzuela took concern with the values stated on the Christian University’s website, which reads, “committed to Jesus Christ, accomplishing his will and advancements on earth as in Heaven.”

“While I full-heartedly believe in the religious freedom and people being able to practice whatever faith that they have, I had some concerns regarding looking at this particular institution. And I think it’s a really good time for us to take a moment and really pause about where our values lie,” she said.

Valenzuela argued that bringing in biblically-minded people to the school does not create a safe space for the district’s LGBT community and other people who do not share the same Christian beliefs.

She pointed out that three of the district’s board members are part of the LGBT community, and having such biblically-minded teachers does not positively impact them as the teachers will only try to influence them into Christianity.

“At some point, we need get real with ourselves and take a look at who we’re making legal contracts with and the message that is sending to our community. Because that makes me feel like I could not be safe in this school district,” she continued.

Some other board members echoed Valenzuela’s opinions, including Kyle Clayton, who condemned the university’s biblical teaching. Such teachings, he said, do not belong in schools.

The district’s decision to reject teachers from a Christian university comes amid a shortage of teachers across the United States. The board members, well aware of that, believe that creating a safe space for LGBT students and teachers is a more important mission than filling up the classroom with teachers.

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