Activists have won a long battle to stop an anti-LGBT+ church operating out of Texas a public school, after protesting every week for more than a year.
Celebration Church, which is openly anti-LGBT+, had been renting space at the Austin Independent School District’s (AISD) Mueller Performing Arts Centre for its services.
Protest organiser and pastor for the AntiFascism NonChristian Church, Candace Aylor, said in a press release: “This was the goal, getting bigots out of public spaces. It goes against our closely held beliefs to abide bigotry and oppression, especially when openly, publicly permitted.
“What we learned today, what we confirmed from what those freedom fighters of the civil rights era taught us, is that direct action protests works.”
The protests were made up of AntiFascism NonChristian Church, as well as other organisations including PFLAG Austin.
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Anti-LGBT+ Celebration Church says it is moving out because its congregation has grown.
The church claims the reason for it no longer renting the public school space is that the congregation has grown, and it needs to move to a new building.
According to the Austin Chronicle, church spokesperson Christine Haas said: “Celebration Church has entered into a purchase agreement to buy a building in the Koenig Lane area.
“The growth of our congregation has allowed for this opportunity and we are very excited to have a permanent home for our Mueller Campus.”
However, one protester claimed in a post on Facebook: “They say they are leaving because they’ve grown, but the real reason is because when a group of protestors shows up every week to call them out on their hateful policies, they can’t grow (the protestors know because we counted their attendance every week).”
According to Austin newspaper the Statesman, the school district has not been able to prevent the church from using the space because their hands were legally tied, according to state law and the first amendment.
Instead, earlier this year the AISD used $10,000 of its income from the Celebration Church rental to fund student and staff participation in the Austin Pride Parade.
Last month, Texas governor Greg Abbott signed a bill to ban discrimination against businesses with anti-LGBT+ views, after Chick-fil-A faced boycotts over donations to anti-LGBT+ causes.