Arizona school district reinstates evangelical student-teachers after Christian university files religious discrimination suit
(Worthy News) – In settlement of a lawsuit filed by Arizona Christian University (ACU), Arizona’s largest elementary school district has agreed to reinstate ACU student-teachers after previously barring them from joining its teacher-training program on the grounds that they would not respect LGBTQ pupils and staff, the Washington Times reports. The 33-school Washington Elementary School District (WESD) also agreed to pay $25,000 in legal fees to ACU and its attorneys, the Alliance Defending Freedom.
The case arose when the WESD board voted 5-0 on February 23 to stop allowing ACU student teachers to train in their schools, the Times reports. Reportedly without bringing evidence, the board members determined that evangelical student teachers would make the schools unsafe spaces for LGBTQ pupils and staff.
Filing suit in the federal district court in Phoenix in March, ACU claimed that the school district had acted against the university “solely because of its religious status and beliefs,” the Times reports.
In a statement confirming the settlement, Attorney David Cortman, an ADF senior counsel and vice president of U.S. litigation, said WESD “did the right thing” in settling the case “at a time when a critical shortage of qualified, caring teachers exists.”
In a separate statement, Nikkie Gomez-Whaley, the WESD governing board president, said: “We look forward to continuing the work of creating welcoming and accessible education spaces that meet the needs of our students, staff, and community.”
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