A federal district court ruled Saturday to allow Darren Patterson Christian Academy to remain consistent with its religious beliefs and participate in Colorado's universal preschool program – guaranteeing every four-year-old in the state at least 15 hours per week of state-funded preschool services for the upcoming school year – while the school's lawsuit proceeds.
The Colorado Department of Early Childhood is mandating that for the school to participate in the program and receive critical state funding, it must hire employees who do not share its faith and alter internal rules and policies that are based on the school's religious beliefs about sexuality and gender—including those that relate to restroom usage, pronouns, dress codes, and student housing during expeditions and field trips.
Jacob Reed of Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), the law firm representing the academy, says if the state does not appeal the decision to not dismiss the case, then it will proceed to the next stages – discovery and another round of the attorneys filing briefs.
At that stage, ADF will be asking for a permanent injunction rather than a preliminary injunction.
This issue in this case is the government is imposing strings on public funds, public benefits, requiring the school to adopt certain rules or provisions that conflict with Christian schools' religious practices.
Reed says the school has the law and Supreme Court precedent on its side.
"The Supreme Court has said this three times over the last six years those sorts of schemes are unconstitutional, [but] states still aren't getting the message," he notes. "So, we're hoping that states will take notice and learn, but when they don't, we'll certainly be there to protect the rights of these Christian schools."
Darren Patterson Christian Academy v. Roy was filed in June in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado.