Gay man banned from picking up stepchild from US school

A religious school in Arizona prohibits a gay man from picking up his stepchild from school. The school does not acknowledge his relationship with the child's father. “The school management made it clear to us that people bring their children to the school to stay away from people like us.”
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The school, Heart Cry Christian Academy in the US state of Arizona, is a religious school and sees homosexuality as a sin. Don Williams' ex-partner enrolled their daughter in the school. When he and his current partner Jose Ortega wanted to get to know the school, it soon became clear to them that Ortega was not welcome there. The school's religious pastor took the two men to a room "out of sight of the children," to make it clear that the school disapproves of homosexuality, the couple told the Arizona Republic newspaper. The school refuses Ortega entry, as he is not the child's biological father.

Ortega says he felt "very unsafe" during the conversation with the pastor. Still, Williams says she doesn't feel welcome there either: "I can probably pick her up and drop her off as her dad. I could come to any school event, but they've made it known I'm not welcome at all," he says.

The fact that his daughter attends that school doesn't do Williams any good either. "One of my fears is the fact that she's in that school and they're brainwashing her and telling her it's not okay for me to be me."

It is possible that the school, which is financed with government money via a voucher system, discriminates in this way because of the religious character of the school. According to legal experts, it is difficult to win a lawsuit against the school. Under Arizona law, schools receiving voucher money are not required to conform to public education standards.

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