A series of essays in the Episcopal Church
By Kim McLaughlin
This journey is an amazing story about how a private school can devastate a Christian family by failing to do what Jesus would do in the name of Christianity. Not only has this journey uncovered a “Christian” school’s failure to advocate for the children it serves, the newspaper in the town neglected to bring the information to the public.
In August 2005, my Godson began school at The Episcopal School in Wichita Falls. He was three years old and beginning 3K kindergarten. It was a fairy tale beginning.
My Godson has two loving mothers. They prepared him all summer long for this program that had accepted this intelligent Christian soul. The parents never hid the fact that they were a gay couple. When they filled out the application for school they wrote the biological mother’s name in the mother’s section and in the father’s section they marked out father and wrote “other parent”. In this section they put the adoptive mother’s name.
When they toured the facility together, they told the individual who gave them the tour that they were my Godson’s parents. They attended orientation together. This was ALL BEFORE my Godson started school.
On a Tuesday night, after my Godson was allowed to attend school for three weeks, the parents received a call from the principal of the school. Here is what happened according to one of my Godson’s mothers:
We have endured quite a devastating time this week and want to share it with all of you so maybe you won’t have to go through a similar thing…
Tuesday night I got a call to meet the principal on Wednesday at 8 a.m. - I asked if something was wrong with [my son] and they said no, [my son] is precious, we love [my son]. So I went the next morning and they asked me to re-fill out the school paperwork as though I were a single parent, excluding [my companion]. I replied no, that [my companion] has legally adopted [our son] and she is an equal parent. They asked for the adoption papers. They also thanked me for not publically displaying affection towards [my companion]. I replied of course we wouldn't - what straight parents do you see necking while dropping their 3 year old off at school?
I went home and returned with the adoption papers. Later that afternoon I got another call. I was told that a parent had reported seeing two women kissing in the parking lot at 8:10 this morning. I said you're kidding, well it wasn't us, if you remember correctly I was in the principal's office at 8:10 this morning. They said you are now in direct violation of the school's code of ethics and are no longer welcome back. They said God had laid it upon their heart to do this, take care of it today, so this is what had to be done. At this point I couldn't see to drive any longer and was shaking like a leaf (I was on the cell phone driving home from work). I said well your God is a cruel God, mine is not.
I had to go pick up [my son’s] boxed up belongings at the school the next morning - pitiful, it was like someone had died. They simply gave me a refund check for September's tuition and "helped" me out the door.
Our hearts have been broken. We've been humiliated, and lost our son's beloved school and our church. The thing that makes it the worst is that when they couldn't get rid of us legally, they turned to a bold-faced lie to make us out to be the evil perverts they think we lesbians are. We had to tell [our son] that school was over for the year (we hope he'll never know what truely happened). He was sad because he wanted Mrs. Levell to be his teacher forever.
As a result of the humiliation of having their child expelled from school due to their sexual orientation, they moved to Canada where the three year old boy, now 4, could attend a truly Christian school for the next semester. Tragically, because the school in Wichita Falls is a private “Christian” school, it is able to continue its unwritten policy of discrimination.
Troubled by the unchristian and discriminatory actions taken against my Godson, I attempted to meet with the school officials. The principal refused to meet with the Godparent or give me a way to contact the board, except through the principal first.
Eventually, I contacted the President of the board. He said I could meet with the full board in March 2006. Later, however, he changed his mind and said it was necessary to meet with the principal first, which was what I had been trying to do all along!
Finally, I was allowed to meet with the principal, vice principal and two board members. The members refused to answer questions put to them and said I had to put in writing the request to meet with the full board. I submitted a written request at that time. The members replied that when the officers met they would vote to see if I could meet with the board. I was told I would know something at noon on April 10. April 10 came and went with no word. I called the president of the board and left a message but he did not return my call. I called the school but the principal also did not return my call.
Having no success trying to discuss this with the school first I decided to bring the discrimination to the attention of the media. I was frustrated enough to be willing to pay to have the story put in the paper. I contacted a friend, who worked at the newspaper office, and the story was assigned to a reporter. Not long afterward, I was contacted by Ms. Ann Work, a reporter for the Wichita Falls Times Record newspaper (www.timesrecordnews.com).
Ms. Work was very excited and wanted to know if this story was exclusive to her. She seemed very concerned and compassionate, as I responded to her phone calls and e-mails for information. She talked about how tragic the situation was and when I sent her my Godson’s picture she said he was a “cutie”.
Then, after all of her hard work, the editor of the newspaper, Carroll Wilson, declined to do the story.
I expressed my disappointment that the community will not learn the details of the church school’s discriminatory actions. I thanked her for all of her hard work. Later, she e-mailed me and said that the story will run when the Episcopal Church makes a statement, in the next couple of weeks, that they will not elect anymore gay bishops.
So I waited. A few weeks later I read in the Abilene Reporter News that the church had announced that they will not elect anymore gay bishops. I called Ms. Work and left her a message to see if the story had run. She did not return my call.
I e-mailed her and she did not respond. I know reporters are busy so I sent her information on homosexuality for background information. I believed she agreed that what happened to my Godson was an injustice.
Then, on April 14, I got an e-mail from Ms. Work: I'll let you know when/if the story is set to run. Please don't send me any more gay propaganda. Although I will write the story objectively, personally I take the Bible literally and, though I feel for the problems of this situation, I oppose homosexuality, as the Bible does… I think it was [my Godson’s biological mom] who told me her God is a lot more loving than the one worshipped at the Episcopal School. However, I would challenge her to read more of the Bible. God condemns homosexuality in the Old Testament and in the New--in no uncertain terms… Bible's teaching. This has also been my experience, despite my own heartbreaks. With the Bible being so clear that homosexuality is repugnant to God, I do not understand how a church--a church!-- can condone it, but somehow the Episcopal faith does in most areas. I know some Presbyterian churches in my hometown where the choir leader is gay and they have openly gay ministers. Are they reading the Bible? Are they paying attention to what God says about homosexuality and how God feels about obedience? I don't believe God wants perversion in the church, no matter how wonderful the individuals in question are. And gay people are really wonderful people...I can attest to that because I know several. But I believe they are in error...tragic error...and that they would do well to pull out a Bible and sit down and read it and do business with the God of the Bible, not the God they hope he is, but the God he IS. God is full of forgiveness and love for them but --they are no exception -- he expects them to live obediently. Gays do not get a free pass to create their own version of family and sexuality, just because it feels right to them. If it were my world, I'd say--hey, let everybody do what feels right to them. But it's God's world, and he has said something entirely different. Again, my heart goes out to [my Godson's] parents. And I will fully convey their side of the story in whatever article comes up. But I guess I thought you should know that I'm not a gay supporter, and I am not interested in articles about gay rights.
After receiving this e-mail I made a request for another reporter to do the story. Not only did the story not run but I also did not get another reporter assigned to the story. Here is what the editor of the newspaper wrote in his blog, on April 24, regarding the reporter’s conduct:
We make Dallas paper Last week, The Times Record News staff was the subject of an article in a Dallas newspaper that covers gay and lesbian issues.
The story was about a local woman whose Godson was denied entry into the Episcopal School because he was being raised by two lesbian women. That was last September. Since then, the women have [sic] child have moved to Canada.
Tangentially, the writer David Webb talked to our reporter who had been contacted by the godmother [sic] to do a story on the school's practices [sic]
The godmother's request came in February or March of this year, well after the child was denied entrance to the school.
So, the reporter came to me and asked if we wanted to run it. I asked her to call the family in Canada and see what their response was and also to see if there was anything new news hook that would prompt us to do the story.
She told me the women were satisfied.
The but [sic] the godmother [sic] was not.
After being inundated with e-mails from the godmother [sic], our reporter wrote back an e-mail telling the godmother [sic] about her own (the reporter's) beliefs about homosexuality and that she didn't appreciate being bombarded with pro-homosexual informatin [sic].
Then the reporter called me, and I expressed regret that the e-mail by the reporter had been sent. We're supposed to be ojbective [sic], and this certainly crossed a line -- a big wide line…
It is obvious from the editor’s blog that he never even investigated the story. I also do not believe that three, four or possibly five e-mails regarding homosexuality constitutes being “inundated” or “bombarded”.
To date, the newspaper has yet to do an article on the story or assign another reporter to the story.
An innocent Christian family was emotionally harmed through the unchristian actions of a Christian school. The mothers and child were so devastated that within two months they moved to Canada.
The local newspaper was so biased that they refused to run a story about the incident. As a result, what happened in their community can happen again. And no one knows who the school will discriminate against the next time. The same injustice, pain and suffering is allowed to perpetuate. Ask yourself, what would Jesus have done in this situation?
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