Like Valentina on episode three of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars season 4, Mike Pence is “deeply offended.”
On Thursday evening, amidst the longest government shutdown in United States history, Vice President Mike Pence went on EWTN, a cable network that purports to offer “news from a Catholic perspective,” to express how upset he and his wife, Second Lady Karen Pence, were over criticism of her new part-time job teaching art at a school that explicitly bans LGBTQ+ students and faculty.
"To see major news organizations attacking Christian education is deeply offensive to us," Pence said in the interview with Lauren Ashburn. “We have a rich tradition in America of Christian education and frankly religious education broadly defined. We celebrate it … but this criticism of Christian education in America should stop.”
PREVIEW -- @VP @mike_pence responds to critics of @SecondLady's new job. "The criticism of Christian education in America should stop." Tune in tonight for part one of my full interview with the Vice President on @EWTNNewsNightly at 7 PM EST on @EWTN. pic.twitter.com/YKEHyroswC
— Lauren Ashburn (@LaurenAshburn) January 17, 2019
To clarify, the criticism he’s referring to is not about, as he says, “Christian education,” but of the employment application and parent agreement at Immanuel Christian School in Springfield, Virginia.
Line number eight on the employment application, which requires a signature, reads: “I understand that the term “marriage” has only one meaning; the uniting of one man and one woman in a single, exclusive covenant union as delineated in Scripture and that God intends sexual intimacy to occur only between a man and a woman who are married to each other and that God has commanded that no intimate sexual activity is engaged in outside of marriage between a man and a woman.” Further down in the graph, it lists what it describes as moral misconducts, which include “homosexual or lesbian sexual activity, polygamy, transgender identity, any other violation of the unique roles of male and female.”
Number six in the parent agreement demands that no parents (and by proxy, their children) should be “participating in, supporting, or condoning sexual immorality, homosexual activity or bi-sexual activity,” or “promoting such practices.”
On Wednesday, Kara Brooks, the communications director for Mrs. Pence, told the New York Times in an email: “It's absurd that her decision to teach art to children at a Christian school, and the school's religious beliefs, are under attack.” One could argue that it’s absurd that a school would openly discriminate against prospective students and faculty.
Absurd perhaps, but legal. West Virginia is one of fifteen states that offer no statewide protections for LGBTQ+ employees. However, public condemnation in past instances has pressured schools to reverse their policies. Such was the case in 2016 when a Rhode Island private school ended up reversing its ban on transgender students.
Will that be the case now? Likely not, considering the ongoing attempts to normalize discrimination against marginalized communities by the Trump administration.
“It’s disturbing Second Lady Karen Pence would put her stamp of approval on an institution that actively targets LGBTQ students at one of the places where they should feel the safest,” Sarah Kate Ellis, president of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, said in a statement. “When young people are coming to terms with their sexual orientation and gender identity, they deserve to have the support of the adults in their lives. Often the arts are a safe haven for these students, and let’s be honest – we wouldn’t have some of the world’s most profound and impactful art if it weren’t for LGBTQ people. As an art teacher, I suspect she is aware of that.”
GLAAD is calling on Mrs. Pence to step down from her position and “join the faculty of an institution that values and supports the acceptance of all students.” But if the Vice President’s latest interview is any indication, when it comes to LGBTQ+ people, the Pences DGAF.