Second lady Karen Pence's announcement that she will be teaching art at a Virginia Christian school has been criticized due to the school's anti-LGBT admissions and employment policies.
As first reported by HuffPost, Pence will be teaching art twice a week at Immanuel Christian School in Springfield, a private institution where she previously taught during her husband's tenure in Congress. “I am excited to be back in the classroom and doing what I love to do, which is to teach art to elementary students,” she said in a statement provided to BuzzFeed News. “I have missed teaching art, and it’s great to return to the school where I taught art for twelve years.”
Her decision has come under fire because the school's policies bar LGBT individuals or those who support the "LGBT lifestyle" from attending or teaching at the school.
As part of Immanuel Christian School's admission process, parents of prospective students must sign a "parent agreement" that states — among other things — that the school will refuse enrollment to students and families who are "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."
The agreement also states that the school reserves the right to discontinue the enrollment of students if such behavior is discovered after they have been accepted.
Per the school's 2018 employment application, those who wish to teach at the school must affirm that they "will maintain a lifestyle based on biblical standards of moral conduct," and it includes LGBT sexual activity in the same category as child sexual abuse in its definition of disqualifying moral behavior.
"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 toward minors as defined by Scripture and federal or state law."
BuzzFeed News has contacted Immanuel Christian School for comment.
“Mrs. Pence has returned to the school where she previously taught for 12 years,” Pence spokesperson Kara Brooks said in a statement to BuzzFeed News. “It's absurd that her decision to teach art to children at a Christian school, and the school's religious beliefs, are under attack.”
Pence has a bachelor's degree and master's degree in elementary education from Butler University and is an award-winning watercolor artist, according to the statement announcing her return to teaching. She recently provided watercolor illustrations for a children's book, A Day in the Life of the Vice President, told from the perspective of the family's rabbit.
She has championed art therapy and established programs at Indiana children's hospitals and cancer wards. In October 2017, she launched an art therapy initiative called Healing with the HeART.