The Bigoted Archbishop Aquila
The Denver Catholic Archdiocese along with two of its parishes is suing the state alleging their First Amendment rights are violated because their desire to exclude LGBTQ parents, staff and kids from Archdiocesan preschools keeps them from participating in Colorado’s new universal preschool program.
The program is intended to provide every child 15 hours per week of state-funded preschool in the year before they are eligible for kindergarten. To be eligible, though, schools must meet the state’s non-discrimination requirements.
The Denver Archdiocese said in the suit they do not believe adhering to their religious beliefs against accepting LGBTQ people qualifies as discrimination. The Denver Post published written guidance last year issued by the Denver Archdiocese to its Catholic schools on the handling of LGBTQ issues, including telling administrators not to enroll or re-enroll transgender or gender non-conforming students and explaining that gay parents should be treated differently than heterosexual couples.
The lawsuit specifically singles out the requirement that preschool providers “accept any applicant without regard to a student or family’s religion, sexual orientation, or gender identity, and to prohibit schools from ‘discriminat[ing] against any person’ on the same bases.”
The Universal Preschool Colorado Program Service Agreement specifies that providers give equal opportunity to enroll and receive preschool services “regardless of race, ethnicity, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, gender identity, lack of housing, income level or disability.”
The governor’s office responded in a statement:
“While it’s unfortunate to see different groups of adults attempting to co-opt preschool for themselves, perhaps because they want to not allow gay parents to send their kids to preschool, or they want to favor school district programs over community-based early childhood centers, the voters were clear on their support for parent choice and a universal, mixed delivery system that is independently run, that doesn’t discriminate against anyone and offers free preschool to every child no matter who their parents are.”