Trinity Academy, a private Christian high school in Wichita, Kansas, came under fire this week for its policy allowing the school to reserve the right to deny admission or expel students who have an LGBT family member or live in a household that promotes LGBT equality.
The school’s Statement of Understanding and Agreement for Parent and Student, initially made public on the blog Friendly Atheist, lays out some of the school’s foundational principles: the Bible is inerrant, families must be active members of a local church, students will refrain from alcohol, drugs, or premarital sex. It’s the final clause, however, that has garnered attention.
Given the debate and confusion in our society about marriage and human sexuality it is vital that Trinity families agree with and support the school’s traditional, Christian understanding of those issues. Therefore, when the atmosphere or conduct within a particular home is counter to the school’s understanding of a biblical lifestyle, including the practice or promotion of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) lifestyle or alternative gender identity, the school should have the right, in its sole discretion, to deny the admission of an applicant or discontinue enrollment of a current student.
The form requires the signature of the mother, father, and student (nontraditional families need not apply it seems).
Dustin Deckard, a former Trinity student who has since come out as gay, told local news station KSN that upon learning about the policy, “the message I received loud and clear from that is that we don’t want you here.”
Trinity officials did not respond to KSN’s requests for an on-camera interview, but emailed a statement clarifying the school’s position. “Trinity Academy holds biblical views on human sexuality and gay marriage and we want prospective families to understand that,” the statement read. “We feel that this is only fair given the disagreement and discord in our society over such issues.”
The school’s response continued by refuting a very narrow example posed by critics: whether a current or prospective student had a gay sibling. “Trinity would not and has not denied admission to a student simply because they have a sibling who is gay. Neither would we necessarily deny admission to a student with same sex attraction.”
The response doesn’t address other scenarios, such parents who are gay or who merely support LGBT equality in the home. Nor does it completely rule out denying admission or expelling a student who happens to be attracted to the same sex. While Trinity, as a private school, has some latitude to set criteria for admission, the extreme nature of this particular policy surprised even Deckard.
“This is as forward as I’ve seen them take this particular agenda,” he told KSN.
Currently, there are roughly 320 students enrolled at Trinity Academy. Earlier this year, the school announced that it plans to expand its campus, adding a school for kindergarten through eighth grade by the fall of 2017. Tuition is $10,000 a year for high school students.