Texas Anglican School Denies Lesbian Parents’ Child Entry
The child of a lesbian couple in a Fort Worth suburb has been rejected by an Anglican school because of her mothers' sexuality and domestic living arrangement.
The two mothers, Jill and Tracy Harrison, celebrated a marriage ceremony four years ago in Canada. Though their wedding carries no legal weight in Texas, they nonetheless consider themselves to be spouses. Their daughter, Olivia, was born to Jill Harrison; the couple used a sperm donor, reported local news service NBCDFW.com.
Olivia was rejected by St. Vincent's school, an Anglican school, only days before classes went into session on Aug. 23, the news site reported. Olivia's mothers say it's because they are lesbians; the school's officials imply that this is correct. St. Vincent's is no longer an Episcopalian school, note officials; rather, St. Vincent's has broken from the mainstream and is now aligned with anti-gay Anglican splinter faith The Anglican Church in North America, which has left the Episcopalian faith over the issue of gay clerics and same-sex families.
"We are a church affiliated with the Anglican Church in North America, and it is their policy that we don't provide services to individuals or families that do not behave properly," the school's head, Kenneth Monk, told the media. "We're going off our canons that say, 'The Anglican Church in North America affirms our Lord's teaching that the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony is in its nature a union permanent and lifelong of one man and one woman.' "
"I am horribly disappointed," Jill Harrison told the press. "In fact, we are in the 21st century and we are still dealing with this issue. We should just move on. Denying my daughter education based on who I end up sleeping with at the end of the day makes me furious."
"It's hard to believe that a place that's supposed to take in and teach children about God and the basics of religion would actually discriminate against her because of who we are," added Jill's wife, Tracy.
Though the Anglican Church in North America has only recently begun to coalesce as anti-gay Episcopalian churches break away from the mainstream of their religion, the global Anglican Church has been roiled by issues of women's roles in the church for decades. The issue shifted to the role of gay clerics and recognition of same-sex families after the ordination of openly gay American bishop V. Gene Robinson in 2003, and the church's fractures have deepened and accelerated since then.
In England, also, the faith's adherents have been divided over the issue of LGBT clerics and congregants. Earlier this year, a UK lesbian couple said they were forced out of an Anglican church in Dorset, England, for having held hands during services. Parish members at St. Nicholas Anglican church, located in the Dorset village of Corfe Mullen, accused Kersten Pegden and Nina Laure of "overtly sexual" conduct, but no similar complaints were lodged against heterosexual couples for the same public displays during church services.
The couple felt forced to withdraw from the parish. Their children had played roles in church life at St. Nicholas, the article said, with Pegden's daughter having sung in the choir and her son having served as an usher. Now the family attends the open and affirming Metropolitan Community Church.
"St. Nicholas welcomes people from a variety of backgrounds and gives private pastoral care to those in need," the church said in a statement. "Issues have arisen with members of the congregation which are being addressed compassionately."
Tensions in the Anglican Church, which has 77 million members worldwide, started decades ago over questions of what roles women should be allowed to assume. Some hardliners reject the notion of women as bishops--and indeed, those elements are pondering a conversion to Catholicism, a move that the Roman Catholic Church would welcome. The Vatican has already issued an invitation to conservative Anglicans who wish to join the Catholic faith. Converts would be allowed to retain some elements of the Anglican Church, such as priests being free to marry. Pope Benedict XVI has said that an influx of Anglicans to the Catholic tradition would be "a blessing for the entire Church."
Six years ago, tension in the church was exacerbated with the elevation of an openly gay Episcopalian cleric named Gene Robinson to the rank of bishop. The idea that an openly gay man who was living a family life with another man drove some in the Anglican church to the point of breaking away; a global schism loomed.
Three years ago, the Anglican church sought to avoid that schism by pursuing a moratorium on the elevation of gay clergy to the status of bishop, a moratorium that ended earlier this year with the elevation of a Los Angeles lesbian cleric, Mary Glasspool, to the status of Episcopalian bishop.
Last year, conservative Anglicans declared that the schism was all but upon the church. That episode was one more in a string of occasions on which demands were made from Anglicans seeking to convince North America's Episcopalians to "repent" for their support of GLBT members of the faith. Another splinter group of the Episcopalians, The Anglican Church in North America, formed last June; the new splinter does not accept that gays might serve God in certain capacities.