A sixth-grade teacher from Florida was recently fired after he talked about being a gay dad.
According to the Orlando Sentinel, middle school teacher Steven Arauz did an interview with online magazine Gays With Kids. For Arauz, who’s a single father who gives talks to foster-parenting classes, this interview was a great opportunity. Unfortunately, some complications to his career then followed.
“The irony is that, as Christians, we like to say, ‘Everyone belongs. Come as you are and follow Jesus,’” Arauz told the Orlando Sentinel. “But then if they find something they don’t agree with, you’re thrown out.”
After the interview went online, Arauz was fired from the Forest Lake Education Center in Longwood, Florida. The private school’s administration saw this as a conflict of interest, given the fact that the institution is run by a Seventh-day Adventist church.
“You are aware that this conduct, if true, does not comport with the Seventh-day Adventist church’s standards and the education program at FLEC,” wrote Frank Runnels, superintendent of schools for the Florida Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, in an email to Arauz.
While many sympathize with Arauz, there are some, such as the online publication the Friendly Atheist, who say Arauz should have seen this coming.
“My thoughts are no different this time around: If you choose to work for an anti-gay religious school, then you don’t really have a leg to stand on when they fire you for being in a same-sex relationship,” wrote the Friendly Atheist. “You knew the rules when you signed up for the job. Yes, they are bigots, but they never hid that fact.”
So why dd Arauz work there in the first place? He says the religious rules shouldn’t have mattered once you think about human consideration.
“Working for a church system, you understand that there are standards. I understand that. And I would understand more that people are more valuable than standards,” he told ABC affiliate station WFTV9.
But here’s why people supporting Arauz are saying the school shouldn’t have any justification for this firing. While the school is a religious institution, it accepts public money in the form of 1.7M dollars from state vouchers and federal coronavirus aid. Any school that receives taxpayer dollars shouldn’t be allowed to discriminate based on sexual orientation. Unfortunately, state legislators are not pushing to condemn the school. As such, it’ll probably get away with not only this firing but many more that come after it.
But what is Steven Arauz doing now? While Arauz’s firing is looking to stay permanent, he has already found a new job as the director of a thrift store and LGBTQ youth charity organization called From The Outside In. Good for him.