Scroll To Top

Gay Dads Told They're Unwelcome at Daughter's Christian School

Gay Dads Told They're Unwelcome at Daughter's Christian School

Heart Cry Christian Academy

Don Williams's ex-wife enrolled their daughter at Heart Cry Christian Academy in Arizona. Williams and his husband, Jose Ortega, got a hostile reception at the school.

Two gay fathers who have a daughter attending a private Christian school in Arizona say they were told they weren’t welcome on campus.

Don Williams and Jose Ortega say they were told as much by the pastor at Heart Cry Christian Academy in Queen Creek, a suburb of Phoenix, The Arizona Republicreports.

“He made it clear to us that people bring their kids to him to stay away from people like us,” Ortega told the newspaper.

The 10-year-old student is the daughter of Williams and his former wife, who recently transferred the girl to Heart Cry from a public charter school. Williams and his ex-wife share custody, but the latter has authority over their daughter’s education.

Williams and Ortega visited the school in January to introduce themselves and were told by Pastor Billy VanCamp that “homosexuality is not welcomed and not allowed” there, Williams said. VanCamp particularly objected to Ortega’s presence on campus because he is not only gay but is not related to Williams’s daughter.

"I said, 'I'm still her stepdad, and as long as she is in my life and as long as she is attending the school, I'm going to be a part of it,'" Ortega told the Republic. "And he said, 'Well, you are not welcome here.' So, I was like, 'Are you threatening me?' And he said, 'Try me.' Clearly, he is threatening me, and, at that point, I felt very unsafe."

Another staff member told Williams his daughter wouldn’t have been accepted by the school if administrators knew she had a gay dad. "Supposedly, as her father, I can pick her up and drop her off. I, supposedly, can come to any school event, but they have made it known that I am not welcomed at all," he said. Now he drops her off without accompanying her, and he worries that the school is “brainwashing” her with anti-LGBTQ+ dogma.

School officials declined comment to the Republic, as did Williams’s ex-wife.

The attitude at Heart Cry raises legal issues because the school accepts public funds through Arizona’s voucher program, which was expanded last year under then-Gov. Doug Ducey, a Republican, to make all children in the state eligible for vouchers. It’s the largest voucher system in the nation.

The new governor, Democrat Katie Hobbs, wants to downsize the voucher program, making vouchers available only to certain students, but she is meeting resistance from Republican legislators. It isn’t clear if Williams and Ortega’s daughter receives voucher assistance.

Private schools don’t have to comply with nondiscrimination laws, and Arizona law doesn’t cover anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination anyway, except for state employees under a recent executive order by Hobbs. A spokesperson for the Arizona Department of Education, which manages the voucher program, told the Republic the agency will not intervene in the gay dads’ situation, and that they should turn to the courts for relief.

Advocate Magazine - KehlaniAdvocate Channel Promotion

From our Sponsors

Most Popular

Latest Stories