Vice President Mike Pence has frequently come under fire for his support of anti-LGBTQ policies, and his conservative beliefs about gender roles have also raised eyebrows. So when his wife, Karen Pence, started a new job at a school that discriminates against LGBTQ students and employees, it was disheartening but not exactly a surprise. HuffPost reports that the second lady recently began teaching art twice a week at Immanuel Christian School in Northern Virginia. The outlet obtained the school’s admissions policy and employment application, both of which make it clear that members of the LGBTQ community are not welcome.
And Lady Gaga has thoughts.
During her Enigma show in Las Vegas on January 20th, Gaga stopped a rendition of “Million Reasons” to address the matter. After criticizing Donald Trump for the government shutdown, she said,
Gaga is referring to the fact that before a child can be admitted to the school, their parents must agree to follow a set of conditions based on the school’s statement of beliefs. This parent agreement states that children can be refused admission if they or their parents participate in or support “sexual immorality, homosexual activity or bi-sexual activity.” Similarly, employees must sign a statement that they won’t participate in homosexual activity or violate the “unique roles of male and female.”
Potential employees of the school also have to agree not to engage in “heterosexual activity outside of marriage” (such as having premarital sex or living with your partner), watch pornography, or openly identify as transgender. The application also states that “a wife is commanded to submit to her husband as the church submits to Christ.”
Pence has worked at Immanuel Christian before, teaching there for 12 years while her husband was serving in Congress. The family’s middle child, Charlotte Pence, attended the school. This time around, the second lady is set to work at the school until May. In a statement to Politico, Pence’s spokeswoman, Kara Brooks, said, “It’s absurd that her decision to teach art to children at a Christian school, and the school’s religious beliefs, are under attack.” Nevermind, of course, that those “religious beliefs” are harmful to an entire group of marginalized people.
Unfortunately, in many places, discriminating against employees based on their sexuality or gender presentation is legal. As the American Bar Association notes, only 20 states have laws that prohibit this. According to Fast Company, in Virginia, only public employees are protected from discrimination. While it’s not exactly shocking that Pence would work for a school with these policies, it’s still shameful that a public figure would openly champion these beliefs. LGBTQ rights are human rights, and that should not be controversial.