Karen Pence’s office on Tuesday defended a decision by the second lady to teach art at a Christian school in northern Virginia that bans gay students and parents.
Pence will teach elementary art two days a week at Immanuel Christian School in northern Virginia, her office announced. She’ll be known as “Mrs. Pence” to her students, not as the second lady of the United States, per her office.
“I am excited to be back in the classroom and doing what I love to do, which is to teach art to elementary students,” Pence said in a statement.
“I have missed teaching art, and it’s great to return to the school where I taught art for 12 years,” she added.
The second lady previously taught at the same school while her husband was serving in Congress, and has spent 25 years as an elementary school teacher overall.
The school where Pence has taken her part-time job has a “parent agreement” posted online that says their policy bans gay students and parents from the school. The agreement was first reported by HuffPost.
“I understand that the school reserves the right, within its sole discretion, to refuse admission to an applicant or to discontinue enrollment of a student if the atmosphere or conduct within a particular home, the activities of a parent or guardian, or the activities of the student are counter to, or are in opposition to, the biblical lifestyle the school teaches,” the agreement states.
‘This includes, but is not limited to contumacious behavior, divisive conduct, and participating in, supporting, or condoning sexual immorality, homosexual activity or bi-sexual activity, promoting such practices, or being unable to support the moral principles of the school. (Lev. 20:13 and Romans 1:27.) I acknowledge the importance of a family culture based on biblical principles and embrace biblical family values such as a healthy marriage between one man and one woman. My role as spiritual mentor to my children will be taken seriously.”
Kara Brooks, Pence’s communications director, said the attention paid to the school’s agreement is “absurd.”
“Mrs. Pence has returned to the school where she previously 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,” Brooks said in a statement to CNN. She did not answer when asked by CNN if Pence agreed with the policy.
In 1991, however, Pence, then an elementary school teacher, wrote a letter to an Indiana newspaper in which she objected to an article that embraced gays and lesbians, The Washington Post noted in 2017. It’s unclear whether her attitudes have shifted as public opinion has changed dramatically on the issue.
Pence is also an artist herself, specializing in watercolors of homes and historical buildings. Her work most recently appeared in her daughter Charlotte’s book, “Marlon Bundo’s Day in the Life of the Vice President.” Two sequels are expected to be published this year.
Pence has also embraced art as her policy platform as second lady; she unveiled her “Art Therapy: Healing with the HeART” platform in 2017, seeking to shine a light on art therapy as a mental health profession through appearances across the US and abroad.
By Betsy Klein and Kevin Liptak, CNN