A privately-run Christian school in Southern California has barred a 5-year-old student from returning because her parents are lesbians, according to San Diego TV station KGTV.
"I love my two moms," said the girl at the center of this decision, which legal experts say pits the rights of a religious school against the rights of her parents.
The identities of the girl and her parents are not being disclosed. One of the mothers, Lashaune, is in the Navy and away on deployment; the other parent, Sheena, is a stay at home mom. Sheena told KGTV she and her wife were summoned to the school before classes began in September. They met with a pastor there, and after a prayer, he reportedly told them they were not welcome at Mt. Erie Christian Academy, where her daughter had attended preschool and summer school.
"You guys don't fit the criteria, we don't condone homosexuality," Sheena recalled the pastor saying.
"It was heartbreaking," Sheena said. "I didn't finish the conversation with them when they took us in the room because I just, I didn't want to look at them any longer. I just couldn't believe that they did that."
A woman who identified herself as "Kailyn" and as the director at Mt. Erie Christian Academy in San Diego was asked by KGTV if the girl was not welcome in the school's kindergarten because she has two moms. The station reported Kailyn stated that the school does have a non-discrimination policy, but when asked whether it was discrimination to bar the 5-year old from attending kindergarten because her parents are lesbians, she responded:
"The Bible says homosexuality is a sin. We don't condone any sinful lifestyles."
An admissions policy document which was updated after the girl began attending Mt. Erie, according to KGTV, was cited by the school as securing its right to expel or deny admission to students whose families are not heterosexual:
"Mt. Erie Christian Academy is a religious, Bible-believing institution providing education in a distinct Christian environment, and it believes that its biblical role is to work in conjunction with the home to mold students to be Christ like. On those occasions in which the atmosphere or conduct within a particular home is counter to or in opposition to the biblical lifestyle that the school teaches, the school reserves the right, within its sole discretion, to refuse admission of an applicant or to discontinue enrollment of a student. This includes, but is not necessarily limited to, living in, condoning or supporting sexual immorality; practicing homosexual lifestyle or alternative gender identity; promoting such practices; or otherwise having the inability to support the moral principles of the school (Leviticus 20:13a; Romans 1:21-27; Matthew 19:4-6; I Corinthians 6:9-20)."
The school is private and doesn't receive federal funds, so like other private religious-based businesses, discriminating against LGBT clients and customers is within its rights, according to San Diego attorney Eugene Iredale, who spoke with KGTV.
"Now the question is, where do you draw the line?" Iredale asked, explaining that some religious traditions such as human sacrifice would certainly be inappropriate to allow.
Sheena and her wife are looking for a lawyer to help them file a civil rights lawsuit, according to KGTV.
Iredale told the station that he believes that the U.S. Supreme Court will eventually have to decide a case like the one involving Mt. Erie because of changing public policy regarding homosexuality.
"What does our family life have to do with anyone else? Like no one's going to be in danger," Sheena told the station. "I want my baby to be safe when she grows up. I don't want her to ever have to be discriminated against because of her lifestyle. That's not fair."
The 5-year old former student has been accepted into a new kindergarten but told the TV station she misses her teachers and friends.
Watch KGTV's report, below.