Tamillia Valenzuela said board should consider ‘where our values lie‘
An Arizona school board member wearing cat ears during a meeting said she would oppose having a contract with a Christian university over the religious and Biblical beliefs they espouse, Fox News Digital found.
The Washington Elementary School District, which serves students in the Phoenix and Glendale areas, had an ongoing contract with Arizona Christian University for five years, enabling their student teachers to be placed in its schools for field experience. The contract opened up opportunities for recruitment and hiring.
On Feb. 23, the board agreed on a motion to dissolve the partnership with the Christian university.
Fox News Digital asked the shool board whether they had a bias against Christian beliefs, and they said, “The board’s decision to discontinue its partnership with Arizona Christian University was based on the board’s commitment to create a safe place for our LGBTQ+ students, staff, and community. This includes not knowingly entering into partnerships with any organization that explicitly discriminates against protected classes covered by our nondiscrimination policies.”
During the meeting, school board member Tamillia Valenzuela blasted the university over its Christian beliefs and said she was “disheartened” to learn about the contract that had been ongoing for five years.
Valenzuela describes herself as “a bilingual, disabled, neurodivergent Queer Black Latina… who loves a good hot wing (but only with the right ranch) and things that sparkle.”
“While I full-heartedly believe in the religious freedom and people being able to practice whatever faith that they have, I had some concerns regarding looking at this particular institution,” she said. “And I think it’s a really good time for us to take a moment and really pause about where our values lie.”
“And while I understand we are currently in a situation across the nation that we have a teacher shortage and recruiting… is really difficult,” she said.
“My concerns, [is] when I go to Arizona Christian University’s website, [ they are] ‘committed to Jesus Christ, accomplishing his will and advancements on earth as in Heaven.’”
“Part of their values is… [to] ‘transform the culture with truth by promoting the Biblically-informed values that are foundational to Western civilization, including the centrality of family, traditional sexual morality, and lifelong marriage between one man and one woman,'” she said.
“I want to know how bringing [teachers] from an institution that is ingrained in their values so directly brings impact to three of your board members who are a part of the LGBT community.”
She added that the board recently added their pronouns at the dias as a solidarity move with the LGBT community.
“Because if we’re bringing people in whose mission [has]… been with their institution’s education that very plainly on their website… that above all else, it was to influence people to Biblically-minded. How does that hold space for people of other faiths? How does that hold space for our members of the LGBT community? How does that space for people who think differently and do not have the same beliefs,” she said.
“At some point, we need get real with ourselves and take a look at who we’re making legal contracts with and the message that is sending to our community. Because that makes me feel like I could not be safe in this school district.”
Other members of the school board expressed similar concerns.
School board member Kyle Clayton blasted the university for “teaching with a Biblical lens.”
“I, too, echo what Ms. Valenzuela said when I… looked into not only their core values, but the statement of faith… [which they] ask their students to sign and live by,” he said.
“Proselytizing is embedded into how they teach. And I just don’t believe that that belongs in schools.”
Valenzuela and Clayton did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Written by Hannah Grossman for FOX News ~ March 3, 2022