Anti-LGBTQ Private School Where Karen Pence Teaches Receives $725k COVID-19 Relief

by Kevin Schattenkirk

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Tuesday December 8, 2020

The private Christian school where Karen Pence teaches received nearly $725,000 through the US government's Paycheck Protection Program for COVID-19 relief, Metro Weekly reports.

Immanuel Christian School in Virginia, where the second lady teaches art, discourages gender non-conformity and being openly LGBTQ by compelling employees and parents sign a code of conduct pledge to decline "participating in, supporting, or condoning sexual immorality, homosexual activity, or bi-sexual activity." As the Metro Weekly points out, parents are also required to "sign an agreement that their children may be expelled or denied admission if either the student or their parent is engaged in conduct that runs counter to the school's emphasis on 'a biblical worldview.'"

The Paycheck Protection Program is specifically designed to assist non-profit organizations and small businesses struggling because of the pandemic. In its application, Immanuel Christian School identifies as a non-profit, claiming that funds will save 115 jobs.

The second lady taught at the school for twelve years when her husband served in Congress. After six years away, she returned in 2019. Controversy ensued over the stringent anti-LGBTQ atmosphere of the school. In an editorial for HuffPost, Ian Cronkhite, a former Immanuel student, characterized the school as a "hotbed of right-wing fanaticism, shoved down the throats of impressionable children." And Sarah Kate Ellis, president and CEO of GLAAD, criticized Pence for putting "her stamp of approval on an institution that actively targets LGBTQ students at one of the places where they should feel safest."

Of course, Pence's husband dismissed criticisms of Immanuel as "deeply offensive" and an affront to religious liberty. But the question remains as to whether religious institutions that condone discrimination should be able to receive taxpayer funds, especially when schools like Immanuel can terminate the employment of anyone who does not abide by their constructions of morality.

Kevin Schattenkirk is an ethnomusicologist and pop music aficionado.