Arizona Christian University (ACU) is suing the Washington Elementary School District in Glendale.
For the last 11 years, the district has partnered with the university and allowed ACU student teachers in the classrooms to obtain the real-world experience they need to graduate. But because of one board member's issue with ACU's religious beliefs and status, that partnership ended in February.
Attorney Jacob Reed of Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), the law firm representing Arizona Christian University, advises everyone to pay attention.
"What the school district is doing here is absolutely prohibited by our Constitution, which protects people of all faiths … from unequal treatment," he points out. "The government cannot treat people differently or worse than others because of their beliefs, and that's exactly what the school district did here."
Echoing the response of other legal minds, the school board, which voted unanimously to sever ties with the Christian university and cease all future agreements with the school, discriminated against ACU because of its beliefs.
"They made comments about how ACU student teachers couldn't respect LGBTQ students and how Arizona Christian student teachers would make those elementary school students feel unsafe," Reed relays. "All of these comments were made without one single incident of any ACU student teacher ever violating a school district policy over the last 11 years."
The lawsuit notes that school district officials showed blatant hostility to ACU's biblical beliefs, questioning how one could "be committed to Jesus Christ" and at the same time respect LGBTQ students and board members.
One board member even stated that the mere presence of ACU student teachers would make some students—and herself—feel "unsafe." Another stated she was "embarrassed" that she allowed the school district's partnership with ACU to continue for so long.