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DC school refuses to play sports at Christian school where Karen Pence teaches, claims students don't feel 'safe'

Self-described progressive K-8 institution acknowledged its students have played at Immanuel Christian School in the past

Carolyn Van Houten/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Sheridan School in Washington, D.C., sent an email to parents announcing that its student-athletes would no longer play at the facilities of Immanuel Christian School, where second lady Karen Pence teaches art.

Jessica Donovan, the head of Sheridan, explained that, even though the K-8 progressive school has played at ICS in the past, the recent discovery of the Christian school's "exclusionary policies" toward the LGBTQ community create an environment "some students did not feel safe entering."

What are the details?

In the letter obtained by The American Conservative, Donovan wrote:

Along with many of you, we learned last week that Immanuel Christian School, a school in our athletic conference, has a written policy prohibiting gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students, parents and teachers.

Donovan went in depth describing the "obvious challenges" in determining how to deal with this new information. She gathered school officials and student leaders of Sheridan's two varsity basketball teams, and they kicked around the idea of still playing on ICS's turf but "make a peaceful and respectful statement."

"As we talked more," Donovan continued, "we understood that some students did not feel safe entering a school that bans LGBTQ parents, students or even families that support LGBTQ rights. Forcing our children to choose between an environment in which they feel unsafe or staying home was not an option."

Donovan noted, "We were clear to separate the ideals of Christianity with the policies of this particular school, as we play many Christian schools that support LGBTQ rights."

Donovan went on to say that Sheridan would still be hosting ICS at home, but that students "will wear their rainbow socks in support of LGBTQ rights," and "some have made banners that respectfully celebrate LGBTW rights" to be displayed when the Christian school comes to visit.

Why all the kerfuffle?

A few weeks ago, it was widely reported that ICS requires employment applicants to sign a pledge to "live a personal life of moral purity." Part of the vow reads, "I understand that the term 'marriage' has only one meaning; the uniting of one man and one woman in a single, exclusive covenant union as delineated in Scripture," as quoted by the Washington Post.

It also says that God intended for sexual activity to only occur between "a man and a woman who are married to each other." More from the school's pledge:

Moral misconduct which violates the bona fide occupational qualifications for employees includes, but is not limited to, such behaviors as the following: heterosexual activity outside of marriage (e.g., premarital sex, cohabitation, extramarital sex), homosexual or lesbian sexual activity, polygamy, transgender identity, any other violation of the unique roles of male and female, sexual harassment, use or viewing of pornographic material or websites, and sexual abuse or improprieties towards minors as defined by Scripture and federal or state law.

The school's Parent Agreement further notes that ICS reserves the right to refuse admission to or kick out any student whose family environment runs counter to biblical principles, including "participating in, supporting or condoning sexual immorality, homosexual activity or bi-sexual activity, promoting such practices, or being unable to support the moral principles of the school. (Lev. 20:13 and Romans 1:27.)"

Several media outlets labelled Immanuel Christian School as a homophobic institution because of the policies. Newsweek's headline read: "Karen Pence Teaching At Anti-LGBT School."

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