Another guest post by Dana
Olivia Harrison's parents spent a great deal of time looking into pre-kindergarten programs for their daughter. They found a school they liked and started the admissions process at St. Vincent's School in Texas. This summer, each time her family drove past the campus, they pointed out the school and reminded Olivia that she would be starting pre-kindergarten there in August.
But on the first day of school, Olivia was not one of the students at St. Vincent's School. Administrators at the private Christian school denied her admission because they do not agree with her parents' lesbian relationship.
Jill and Tracy Harrison were married in Canada in 2006. They filled out an application for St. Vincent's School in June. But last week, just a week before school started, they were told that Olivia could not enroll because their relationship is against the traditional beliefs of the Anglican Church.
"The canons of our church take a traditional stand on Christian marriage," St. Vincent's School chaplain Randall Foster said. "We didn't want to send the tacit message that we endorse the relationship. We cannot do anything that would give legitimacy to same-sex relationships."
Fortunately, the Harrisons found a new, nonreligious school for their daughter, but they said they are disappointed that their relationship became a factor in her admission.
"What we do when we come home and shut the door should not affect our daughter getting an education," Tracy Harrison said. "We want it to be fair."
Tracy Harrison said that she was raised in a Baptist church and that the couple chose St. Vincent's School after researching schools with good academics that would teach basic Christian beliefs. Jill Harrison, when she filled out enrollment forms for Olivia, wrote in her name as the girl's mother, crossed out father, wrote mother and listed Tracy's name in that spot.
Apparently school officials assumed that Tracy was a man, but when Olivia's parents attended a parents night in mid-August, schools officials called a meeting with Jill Harrison to say that the child could not enroll.
"The only responsible thing was to say this is not a good fit," Foster said. "We were trying to protect Olivia, protect the other children from being exposed to the culture wars and stand up for our theological position."
What do you think? Was the secular school right to deny admission to the child of a family who clearly violated their religious teachings? Had St. Vincent's allowed Olivia to attend the school, would it have benefited Olivia to learn in an environment that admonished her parents relationship? Was it irresponsible of Olivia's parents to consider enrolling her in a secular school?
Tuesday, August 31, 2010