After months of protests by students and LGBT rights activists in Texas, the Austin school district agreed to donate $10,000 from revenue generated from the rental of the Performing Arts Center to a local anti-LGBT church, to fund district “participation in the annual Austin Pride Parade and other LGBT districtwide activities,” according to the Austin American Statesman.
Gay rights advocates have argued that the district should stop renting the facility to the church because its traditional biblical views run counter to the district’s inclusive values.
The group led weekly protests outside the Georgetown-based Celebration Church since it began renting the space in August. So far, the district has earned $182,000 from the church’s weekly rental.
Here’s a brief summary of Celebration Church’s anti-LGBTQ practices, according to the Austin American Statesman:
Church leaders have said they believe in being welcoming and kind to all people regardless of sexual orientation, religion or political beliefs, but they stick to teaching the Bible. The church’s website previously referenced Bible verses stating homosexuality, bisexuality and disagreeing with one’s biological sex is a sin. Those references have since been removed, but the website currently states marriage is defined “from the beginning of Scripture as a lifelong covenant between a man and a woman” and that the church “does not endorse or condone” sexual intimacy outside of marriage.
The district will give $4,000 of the $10,000 donation to transport students to the city’s August 10 Pride parade and $6,000 will go to protect those attending and to purchase materials for campuses participating in the district’s annual October Pride week.
One protestor named Anna Nguyen said “the $10,000 toward Pride activities is ‘a start, but it’s not enough,’” adding, “Relative to the revenue they have collected from the Celebration Church and also relative to deal with the problem of homophobia and transphobia in AISD and in general, $10,000 is not really a lot.”
Nguyen would like the school district to do more to support LGBTQ students and faculty, including funding more “diversity and inclusion initiatives, ally training for school leaders and anti-bullying initiatives.”