Since a recent vote, the Washington Elementary School District, which oversees schools in the Phoenix and Glendale areas, no longer allows Arizona Christian University (ACU) student teachers to fulfill their practicum requirements in the public school classrooms because Tamillia Valenzuela, a "bilingual, disabled, neurodivergent Queer Black Latina … who loves things that sparkle," objects to the university's commitment to "influence people to be biblically minded."
"At some point, we need to get real with ourselves and take a look at who we're making legal contracts with and the message that that is sending to our community," Valenzuela declared. "That makes me feel like I could not be safe in this school district."
Brad Dacus of the Pacific Justice Institute says the school board's decision is unconstitutional.
"The Constitution protects religious institutions from being discriminated against by the government," he points out. "The government must be neutral when it comes to religious institutions. This is not neutrality. This is open hostility."
Abraham Hamilton III, American Family Association's general counsel, likewise warns that "she's leading the school district into a lawsuit where they're about to lose millions of dollars."
"The law prohibits you from categorically discriminating against people for religious beliefs," he reiterates.
Hamilton contends that ACU needed to file a lawsuit "yesterday," and Dacus says Valenzuela needs to be removed from the board.
"She apparently is not someone that the average parent would like making decisions with regards to their child's welfare and education at public school," he submits.
Hamilton points out that elections have consequences and that the school board unanimously sided with Valenzuela, who cited no instance of poor performance by ACU students and no cases of anyone from ACU violating any laws or treating anyone unfairly. Her issue was solely with the university's statement of beliefs, which she decided means ACU cannot work in cooperation with anyone who has different beliefs.
Hamilton, however, submits that Valenzuela is the one who is guilty of that.
He also recalls when the marching order of the day was "tolerance." That, he says, has never been the objective.
"Their goal, ultimately, is to destroy God's institution of marriage, mar man's understanding of identity, put a finger into the eye of God, and to corrupt the only human institution that God articulated as a reflection of Christ's relationship with His bride, the Church," Hamilton asserts.
What began as tolerance has boiled into the position that anyone who believes the Bible cannot participate in public life.
"The Bible told us we would get here," Hamilton adds. "This is further evidence that the Bible is true. Be keenly aware that this type of sentiment is prevalent."
Editor's Note: The American Family Association is the parent organization of the American Family News Network, which operates AFN.net.