Bible Baptist Academy in Louisiana allegedly rejected a kindergartener because of her guardians same sex marriage.
There is a lot of debate over religious freedom rights, and how they pertain to a school setting. But typically, the renewed interest in these longstanding civil rights education laws pertains to individuals, and their ability to practice their religion in a school setting. But today, that focus has shifted to the rights of private schools, after Bible Baptist Academy has turned some heads for turning away a student in allegedly what was a decision made based on their religious rights.
A five-year-old girl is prohibited from attending the private religious school she attended for PreK, now that she is entering her Kindergarten year. Zoey attended Bible Baptist Academy in Dequincy, Louisiana last year during a tumultuous time for the little one. After losing both her mother and her father, she was adopted by her Aunts, Jennifer and Emily Parker, who are in a same-sex marriage. Allegedly, this is the reason Zoey was kicked out of school, and it has fueled a debate on social media over whether the school acted maliciously, or if they were just following the religion they teach by.
Emily Parker shared the news that Zoey had been barred from attending the religious school in an emotional public Facebook post. Bible Baptist Academy welcomed back students for the start of the year last Monday, but Emily wrote that she and Jennifer were requested to meet with the school’s principal just two days before that. She alleges that the principal explained to them that the reason Zoey was no longer allowed to attend was because of her new guardian’s same-sex marriage.
Speaking more in-depth about the conversation with Newsweek, Emily said that the Bible Baptist Academy principal justified the school’s decision based on their dedication to not only educating on subjects like reading and math but also because they are devoted to teaching about the “Lord and the Bible.” Cutting to the chase, she stated that he added that the Christian religion teaches that only a man and a woman can enter into matrimony together. After making it perfectly clear to Emily where the conversation was going, he ended by saying that Zoey simply was not a “good fit.”
Outraged by Bible Baptist Academy’s decision to punish a 5-year-old for her adopted parent’s sexual orientation, Emily berated the private school in her social media post for acting callously against a young student. A Christian herself, Emily noted that she now questions her faith because of what the school chose to do to Zoey. Before this, she was hopeful that the little girl would learn faith and love attending the Christian Academy – especially after all the stress she had undergone in her short life.
Garnering a vast array of support from people on social media, Emily gave an update on Zoey noting that the family was shown encouragement and support from both “Christians and sinners alike”, which she was so thankful for. Now that Zoey won’t be attending Bible Baptist Academy, she was gladly taken in by Hamilton Christian Academy. Supporters were glad to see that the little girl was able to find an accepting religious school to attend.
But with all that support, the account was met with some criticism and support for Bible Baptist Academy and its decision. When originally airing the situation on Facebook, some users sided with the Church. One noted that she stands with the private school, saying that she would pray for the little girl while adding that the school had the right to turn anyone away. While not always clear under law, private religious schools are at times protected in their rights to turn away students on a religious basis, but not necessarily as it depends on each case.
Despite this, the Parker family has not hinted at seeking any legal action against Bible Baptist Academy for turning away Zoey. However, the nation is extremely divided on topics that deal with the separation of religion and school. Given the state of things and all the publicity the little girl’s story is now receiving, a lawsuit wouldn’t be unheard of.