Vice President Mike Pence has said it is “deeply offensive” that LGBTQ people are angry at Second Lady Karen Pence accepting a job at a school that discriminates against LGBTQ employees, parents and students.
Karen Pence announced this week that she has resumed her teaching career after accepting a twice-weekly job as an art teacher at Immanuel Christian School in northern Virginia.
That raised eyebrows after a Huffington Post report uncovered the school’s bias against LGBTQ people, which includes requiring employees to pledge to “live a personal life of moral purity,” and refuse to engage in “homosexual or lesbian activity” and “transgender activity.”
The school’s website also notes that it reserves the right to expel students who are LGBTQ, or students who are children of LGBTQ parents, under a section that objects to any “atmosphere or conduct within a particular home…[that is] counter to, or are in opposition to, the biblical lifestyle the school teaches.”
Such “conduct” includes “sexual immorality” and “homosexual…or bi-sexual activity.”
Pence’s decision led to a flurry of responses from LGBTQ organizations objecting to the move, with Sarah Kate Ellis, President and CEO at GLAAD, saying in a statement that it was “disturbing” that Pence would “put her stamp of approval on an institution that actively targets LGBTQ students at one of the places where they should feel the safest.”
But in an interview with Eternal Word Television Network, Vice President Pence called attacks against the school “deeply offensive.”
“To see major news organisations attacking Christian education is deeply offensive to us,” he said. “We have a rich tradition in America of Christian education and frankly religious education broadly defined.”
Ignoring the fact that the school discriminates against LGBTQ employees, parents and students, Pence added: “This criticism of Christian education in America should stop.”
Vice President Pence has a long record of anti-LGBTQ positions, including supporting conversion therapy. In a statement on his congressional campaign website in 2000, he argued for resources to be directed away from “organisations that celebrate and encourage the types of behaviours that facilitate the spreading of the HIV virus” and instead go towards “those institutions which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior.”
As governor of Indiana, Pence supported the “Religious Freedom Restoration Act,” which allowed businesses and individuals to discriminate against LGBTQ people.
In addition, Pence opposes same-sex marriage, once telling Congress it would bring “societal collapse.” He opposed the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. And he opposed the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would have banned discrimination against people based on sexuality.
In 2017, a New Yorker column alleged that Trump joked about Pence wanting to “hang” every gay person.