LGBT activists attack county's partnership with Christian school
LGBTQ activists are demanding that a county in California cut ties with a Christian university over its views on homosexuality and gay marriage.
Vanguard University (VU), which is affiliated with the Pentecostal denomination Assemblies of God, believes that “the consistent sexual ideal in the Bible is chastity for those outside a monogamous heterosexual marriage and fidelity for those inside such a marriage,” according to the university’s website. The school says that any student who violates the standards “can be subject to discipline,” according to Voice of OC, a local news outlet.
"Promoting such an organization, using county email resources and facilities, tells county employees that the County has no problem engaging in a partnership with an organization that practices and teaches to its students the principles of intolerance."
Last month, Orange Country’s Human Resource (HR) department struck a deal with Vanguard which allows county employees to receive anywhere from 10 to 25 percent off the university’s tuition rate. The county’s HR department gained the power to initiate partnerships on its own in July.
The policy states that schools must be fully regionally accredited and nonprofit in order to enter into a partnership with the county, according to the Voice of OC.
However, activists say the partnership between Vanguard and the county violates the county’s non-discrimination policy, which forbids discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, and are demanding that the county end its partnership with the school.
Jeff LeTourneau, co-chair of the LGBT Caucus of the Orange County Democratic Party, says he considers the arrangement “outrageous” if Vanguard is unwilling to change its policies.
“The principal is very clear—that anything that has to do with employee benefits has to be equally available under the EEO policy,” LeTourneau said, according to the Voice of OC. “And this benefit has conditions attached to it that makes it not equal for everyone to receive the same benefits.”
In return for reduced tuition, Vanguard may advertise its programs on internal county communications and hold informational sessions at lunch events. Still, members of the gay community resist the partnership.
“The school’s statement of faith and behavioral standards make it clear that this institution specifically promotes, advocates, and defends discrimination against individuals on the basis of religious faith and sexual orientation,” said Chris Prevatt, an openly gay employee of the county’s health care agency who filed a complaint against the board.
Despite anti-discrimination policies surrounding the allocation of federal funds, religious institutions such as George Fox University—which denied a transgendered man’s request to live in male dorms—have been exempted in the past.
“Promoting such an organization, using county email resources and facilities, tells county employees that the County has no problem engaging in a partnership with an organization that practices and teaches to its students the principles of intolerance,” wrote Prevatt.
John Moorlach, the second district supervisor, says the partnership was first initiated back in April when the university president made the suggestion to a group of board members who were presenting an award to the school’s basketball team.
“Diversity goes both ways,” said Moorlach, who declined to comment to Voice of OC on if the arrangement could violate the county’s nondiscrimination policy.
LeTourneau disagrees with Moorlach’s claims, and believes VU advocates bigotry.
“You also have to accept groups that are bigoted and that violate the state’s anti-discrimination language?” LeTourneau said. “That’s not a two-way street.”
Despite multiple attempts, Erin Hales, VU’s Director of Marketing and Communications declined Campus Reform’s request for comment.
Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @MaggieLitCRO