Schools and Families

The story about a girl being kicked out of a Christian school in California for her mother being a lesbian has been making waves around the Christian blogosphere. Most of those I read said something along the lines of, “That isn’t the gospel!” “Way to show Christ!” Marvin Olasky even asked if the behavior was ‘Pharisaical’?

As a teacher, I naturally try to place the situation in my school and reflect upon it based on my own experiences teaching in the school and confronting various issues. This being the case, I think these comments are more realistic:

“Given the school’s standards were clear, I suspect that the lesbians put their child in this school just to create a controversy. But this wasn’t a judgment on the child, but on the lifestyles of her parents.” (Italics mine; in other words: in private school communities, it is typically families that are kicked out, not children.)


“Isn’t the pertinent information here that the parents of the student cleary and overtly violated the school’s policy? Does it really matter what the violation was? I agree that this should be handled with grace and humility by the school, but handling it in love would demand parents be held accountable to the school’s policy which they voluntarily agreed to.”

A school’s authority is fragile because it doesn’t come directly from God, but is delegated from God to the parents to the school (i.e., there’s not expressly stated chapter-verse: obey your headmaster. It is all application of principles regarding those in authority). When a student begins to threaten the authority of the school, the school needs to take steps in correcting this. When this comes from home: good luck. I bring this up in light of this quote from the article: “School administrators learned of the parents’ relationship this week after Shay was reprimanded for talking to the crowd during a football game.” I don’t know what exactly to make of that, but the girl doesn’t seem to be completely innocent. My headmaster refers to three categories when disciplining: the fool, the naive, and the scoffer. You show grace to the fool and the naive; you excommunicate the scoffer.

Last year I read Repairing the Ruins. One of the (very wise, imo) points that was made — for new schools — is that you need to make a decision whether you are a school for covenant children or an outreach school: are you focused on discipleship or evangelism?. You can be either one, but do expressly pick one. Doing so makes sure that administration, parents, and teachers are on the same page.

4 responses to “Schools and Families

  1. I don’t know if what the school did was right or not, because I don’t know all the details involved. But I am certain that what they did was not necessarily wrong, or disgusting and anti-christian as I’ve seen it described.

    Generally, if the parents are at odds with the school, then the school is not going to be able to accomplish its goals (assuming that its goal is to train up faithful christian children, and not convert children).

  2. If the school’s rules stated that there were certain rules that parents had to adhere to for their child to be a student at the school, the school is well within their legal right to expell the student.

    However, what troubles me is why the rule is there to begin with. Perhaps my view is somewhat based on where I’m from, but from what I’ve observed of Christian schools in this area is the vast majority will admit children who are from “less than desirable” backgrounds because part of the mission of the school is to minister. Non-Christian children are seen as a privledge rather than a burden.

    If I were to make a snap judgement on the situation, I’d say this school’s mission isn’t to minister to the lost, it’s to protect their own… and well, they have a right to do that, but I don’t have to agree with them.

  3. I have been a part of Christian school communities with explicit goals of outreach/evangelism and also ones with explicit goals of educating covenant children. They both have their benefits and disadvantages. For example, it’s easy to think an evangelical school is a good idea in theory before you witness a kindergartener throwing a tantrum in front of the entire class where he tells the teacher to “Shut the F*** up you s***-face b****!” and then wonder if you want to pay $5k a year for your five year old to witness that.

    I do think both options should be made available in the Christian community. I also think parents should have the right to choose what sort of school is right for their family. But, ultimately, private schools accept families (and not vice-versa) and they have the right to ask them to leave as well.

  4. I had a friend who was kicked out of a school b/c her parents got divorced… another school (fundamental Baptist) accepted her, no problems at all. My friend actually bore no ill-will toward the school for kicking her out, interestingly enough. She was too upset with her parents getting divorced I think.

    Kristen, ITA with your last comment. :)

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