Watch: Christian School 'Clarifies' Opposition to Marriage Equality - and Staff, Students Walk Away

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Wednesday September 11, 2019

A Christian school near Seattle "clarified" its position on a number of issues, including marriage equality, in an email message sent out over the summer. As a result, some students - and some staff as well - chose not to be there when classes reconvened for the new schooner, local news channel KIRO reported.

Jacinta Tegman, the head of CRISTA Ministries, the organization that runs the school, told the news channel that the school "uphold[s]" what she called a Biblical teaching around human sexuality.

The news channel noted that the school's staff were told that they were required to follow the organization's interpretation of the Bible with regard to personal relationships. The email sent to the families of students enrolled at the school told them that, "King's upholds the historical Biblical standard of morality that sexual expression is confined within the marriage of one man and one woman."

The Seattle Times noted the Tegman has long been an anti-LGBTQ activist, fighting state laws protecting that community and opposing marriage equality in Washington. Tegman became CEO of CRISTA at the start of this year, the Seattle Times reported.

The Seattle Times reported that "at least five" teachers left the school in the wake of its having "clarified" its stance around marriage and family - or, more specifically, whether LGBTQ people should be allowed those things.

"I will say clarity is a gift," Tegman told the news channel in defending the school's stance, "because it allows people to decide, is this the right place for them?"

One of the students who has decided the school is not for her is Ruthie Mogg, whose parents de-enrolled her after getting the email in July. Ruthie agreed with their decision despite having attended King's Schools from the time she was in kindergarten.

"They're hurting students and they're excluding a huge group of people who do not feel valued or that they can be themselves because of what's been said," Mogg told KIRO.

"There are a lot of transgender, gay and bi, students at King's still. One transgender guy I was close with and I'm thinking who is he going to be able to go and talk to, and know who is in his corner."

The Seattle Times reported that CRISTA, in addition to operating schools, also runs radio stations and retirement communities, and has a budget that exceeds the $100 million mark.

Businesses that have come out against LGBTQ people and their families in the past have seen support from that community drop away, as happened after anti-marriage comments by the head of Chick-fil-A in 2012 and, the following year, a remark by the head of the Barilla pasta company in which he invited gay people to buy some other brand. Both brands ended up making enduring impressions as being anti-LGBTQ, with Chick-fil-A recently losing several concession opportunities thanks to that years-long reputation. Meantime, more than five years later, Barilla is still struggling to reconnect with LGBTQ shoppers.

Watch the KIRO news clip below.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor. He also reviews theater for WBUR. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.

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