New job of US vice president's wife sparks LGBT+ furor

by Ellen Wulfhorst | @EJWulfhorst | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Wednesday, 16 January 2019 22:04 GMT

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and his wife Karen give thumbs-up as they board the Air Force Two at Yokota U.S. Air Force Base in Fussa, on the outskirts of Tokyo, Japan November 13, 2018. REUTERS/Toru Hanai/Pool

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Karen Pence will teach twice-weekly art classes at a school with a policy of refusing LGBT+ students and teachers

By Ellen Wulfhorst

NEW YORK, Jan 16 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - The wife of the U.S. vice president has started a job teaching art to children, the White House announced, working at a private school with a policy of refusing LGBT+ students and teachers.

Karen Pence will be teaching twice-weekly art classes at Immanuel Christian School, an elementary school in Virginia, the White House said on Tuesday.

Her husband, Vice President Mike Pence, is a social and evangelical conservative who in 2015, as governor of Indiana, signed into law a religious freedom bill that would have allowed businesses to deny services to gays.

Controversy followed, and he was forced to revise the law.

The Immanuel Christian School where Karen Pence has started her job has written policies online saying it will not hire LGBT+ faculty as well as refuse admission to LGBT+ students or those with LGBT+ parents.

Students and parents' lifestyles may not include "participating in, supporting, or condoning sexual immorality, homosexual activity or bi-sexual activity," its policy states.

Teachers must not engage in such behaviors as "homosexual or lesbian sexual activity, polygamy, transgender identity, any other violation of the unique roles of male and female," its job application states.

The head of GLAAD, a New York-based LGBT+ rights group, called on Karen Pence to resign from the job, saying it was "disturbing" she would "put her stamp of approval on an institution that actively targets LGBTQ students."

"When young people are coming to terms with their sexual orientation and gender identity, they deserve to have the support of the adults in their lives," Sarah Kate Ellis, president of GLAAD, said on the organization's website.

A spokeswoman for Karen Pence said in a statement posted on Twitter that she was returning to a school where she had taught for 12 years.

"It's absurd that her decision to teach art to children at a Christian school, and the school's religious beliefs, are under attack," the statement said.

Karen Pence said in a statement that she had missed teaching.

"I am excited to be back in the classroom and doing what I love to do, which is to teach art to elementary students," she said.

The conservative Christian school's policies about LGBT+ students and faculty were first reported by the online news site HuffPost. (Reporting by Ellen Wulfhorst, editing by Jason Fields

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