An Arizona Elementary School District cut ties with a Christian University after a “witchy AF,” “queer AF,” and allegedly “disabled” school board member wearing cat ears said the university’s “biblically-informed” values made her feel unsafe.
For the past five years, the Washington Elementary School District, which serves pre-k through eighth grade students in Phoenix and Glendale, had a contract with Arizona Christian University, which allowed their student teachers to be placed in its schools for field experience, Fox News reported. The contract provided valuable opportunities for recruitment as the nation grappled with the ongoing teacher shortage.
Amid nationwide staff shortages however, the board on February 23 unanimously agreed on a motion to end its partnership with the Christian university.
A disturbing video of the meeting has since emerged online featuring school board member Tamillia Valenzuela sporting cat ears and blasting the university over its Christian beliefs.
Valenzuela is serving her first term on the Governing Board after being elected in November 2022.
Before the winter break, newly elected Governing Board Members Kyle Clayton and Tamillia Valenzuela took the oath of office. Welcome to our new Governing Board members! #WESDFamily pic.twitter.com/gizmAex2aD
— WESD Schools (@WESDschools) December 31, 2022
In various online profiles, Valenzuela has described herself as a “bilingual, disabled, neurodivergent Queer Black Latina” who “loves a good hot wing (but only with the right ranch) and things that sparkle,” and as “Afro Latina AF, Queer AF, Witchy AF.”
Tamillia Valenzuela , AZ school board member thinks shes a witch demands the board protect kids from teachers with Christian values. This board severed their relationship w/ the Christian University. Ppl in this district better wake the F up. Look who’s influencing their kids pic.twitter.com/cxlXzy5w2G
— Landon (@Ivylgeexec) March 3, 2023
During her remarks, Valenzuela expressed concern that the Christian university prioritizes the teachings of Jesus Christ in its mission statement to students.
“While I full-heartedly believe in the religious freedom and people being able to practice whatever faith that they have, I had some concerns regarding looking at this particular institution,” said during the meeting. “And I think it’s a really good time for us to take a moment and really pause about where our values lie.”
“And while I understand we are currently in a situation across the nation that we have a teacher shortage and recruiting… is really difficult,” the self-avowed “neurodivergent queer black Latina” said.
Valenzuela said she was deeply concerned by the values she saw posted on the Arizona Christian University’s website, which says: “‘above all else, be committed to Jesus Christ, accomplishing his will and advancing his kingdom on earth as in Heaven.’”
Continuing to read from their website, she noted that “part of their values” is to “‘transform the culture with truth by promoting the biblically-informed values that are foundational to Western civilization, including the centrality of family, traditional sexual morality, and lifelong marriage between one man and one woman.'”
Valenzuela stressed that it wasn’t hard to find this shocking information on the Christian University’s website. “You can go on their first site, like the first page!” she exclaimed.
“I want to know how bringing people from an institution that is ingrained in their values that very directly brings impact three of your board members who are a part of the LGBT community,” Valenzuela said, adding that the board had recently added their pronouns at the dais to signal solidarity with the LGBT community so they can “feel protected.”
“Are we only performing performative solidarity or are we going to dig deep and actually look at the partnerships that we’re doing?” she asked.
“Because if we’re bringing people in whose mission, who have been told with their institution’s education that is very plainly on their website … that above all else, it is to influence people to be Biblically-minded, how does that hold space for people of other faiths?” Valenzuela asked. “How does that hold space for our members of the LGBT community? How does that space for people who think differently and do not have the same beliefs?”
Valenzuela concluded by arguing that the Christian university’s mission for its own students was somehow a threat to her personally.
“At some point, we need get real with ourselves and take a look at who we’re making legal contracts with and the message that is sending to our community. Because that makes me feel like I could not be safe in this school district,” she said.
A member of the Washington Elementary School Board in Arizona (wearing cat ears during the meeting) says she opposes an ongoing contract with Arizona Christian University to place their student teachers in schools due to the fact that they espouse Biblical Christian beliefs. pic.twitter.com/qMqtAyvTId
— 1776 Project PAC (@1776ProjectPac) March 3, 2023