A non-denomination private school in Tennessee has declined to accept two children who are being raised by a married same-sex couple.
Brian Copeland and Greg Bullard [pictured], who married in California in 2013, have been searching for a school in which to enroll their children – a son of pre-kindergarten age and a daughter, who is eight months old, reports USA Today.
Of great importance to the men was finding a school that would welcome them as a family. Bullard is a Senior Pastor at a local church, the Covenant of the Cross in Madison, and so the men ideally want a school that has a focus on faith.
After doing some research, an acquaintance recommended Davidson Academy in Nashville – a Christian school that has no direct affiliation to any particular church.
Copeland arranged a visit to the school in order to be shown its facilities and meet with the Headteacher.
However, in mid January, he received a letter from the school cancelling the visit, which he shared this week on his Facebook page – prompting a storm of reaction on social media.
In the photograph that he posted on Facebook, Copeland redacted the name of the school. However, it has now been widely reported that the school in question is the Davidson Academy in Nashville.
The letter from the institution stated the following:
Although Davidson Academy is not sponsored by or affiliated with any specific church or denomination, the school was founded by Christians and operates in the Christian tradition based upon clear tenets of faith and practice. In the Handbook for Students and Parents, which is accessible on our public website and to which every family must subscribe in the Enrollment Agreement, our Statement of Faith appears on page 6. The first point of the Statement is as follows:
We believe God has revealed Himself, His purposes, and His ways in the Bible, which is therefore absolute in its truth and authority over daily living.
The practical application of this principle extends to the lifestyle conduct of those who are a part of the school. In the section on Admission Policy in the Handbook, on page 15, is found this statement:
Davidson Academy requires all its students, parents or guardians, teachers, administrators, staff and trustees to manifest lifestyle conduct and actions which project an image consistent with the expressed purposes, mission, and beliefs of the school. Any lifestyle conduct which is in opposition to the mission of Davidson Academy or which impedes the school’s credibility with its constituency or the general public is unacceptable.
One example of such lifestyle is homosexuality. Davidson Academy has the right and responsibility to do everything possible to ensure that its expressed purposes, mission, and beliefs continue in their highest traditions and are not harmed, compromised, or hindered by unacceptable lifestyle conduct on the part of its students, parents or guardians, teachers, administrators, staff or trustees.
The letter ended by saying that, ‘I believe that another education provider would be a better fit for your children. Therefore, we cannot grant admission to your children.’
Copeland removed the name of the school official who had signed the letter, but explained on his Facebook page why he had decided to post it:
I share this to let my friends know that discrimination affects people you know and love and still hurts no matter how many times you go through it. We chose this school because of its rigorous faith-based K-12 academics and extra curricular activities; and, a friend with a son there asked them if a family like ours would be allowed and was told yes. After a phone conversation, fully disclosing we are a two-dad family, an appointment was set for us. I receive this letter canceling our appointment without even getting a chance.
Sadly enough, an acquaintance called the school this morning and told them she had been through a divorce because she cheated and that she now lives with her three kids and her boyfriend. The administrator welcomed them with open arms and offered an appointment.
I chose to not share the name because the kids who go there deserve respect and to learn in peace. It’s not about me getting my way. My children will not go there under this person’s administration. It’s about telling the story that there are real faces and feelings that open letters like this. We want the best for our kids, and THEY deserve to be given a chance. I love you all. The love you show my family every day here makes life even richer.
Copeland told The Tennessean that he and his husband’s goal is ‘not to harm the school’ but to merely to show that ‘discrimination and inequality is alive and well.’
He also wished to stress that he and his husband did not regard themselves as victims and were not trying to inhibit anyone else’s religious beliefs.
‘We want our children to have a Christian education,’ said Copeland, ‘and we’re finding that very, very hard.’
Copeland’s Facebook posting has been shared over 250 times and has prompted response from some Davidson Academy alumni. One, Toby Compton, who is no longer at the school, wrote, ‘Sad, truly sad. Hurt deeply and I can’t sleep.
‘I was just kind of shocked. … Here are two dads trying to do the right thing for their kids, and they’re turned way.’
Compton said that he had contacted the Academy but they had told him that they are unable to comment as they consider it a legal matter.
GSN called Davidson Academy Headteacher, Dr Bill Chaney, for comment but have not received a reply.