The second lady of the United States has a new job — one that comes with some pretty controversial requirements. Notably, the school where Karen Pence is working doesn't welcome LGBTQ students or teachers. In fact, in applying to work at the school, potential employees must certify that they won't take part in homosexual activity or violate the “unique roles of male and female," the school's articles of employment revealed.
The Washington Post noted that Pence will work part-time as an art teacher at the Immanuel Christian School, a K-8 school located in Springfield, Virginia. As the Associated Press indicated, Pence's office noted that she will teach there twice a week through May. Pence previously taught at the school for 12 years when her husband, Vice President Mike Pence, was a congressman.
The school's controversial requirements regarding LGBTQ students and teachers are present in their parent agreement and employment application, respectively, the HuffPost noted. The employment application's statement of faith asks that employees only teach a singular view of marriage. "I understand that the term 'marriage' has only one meaning; the uniting of one man and one woman in a single, exclusive covenant union as delineated in Scripture," the application says. As the Chicago Tribune indicated, it's not certain whether Pence signed this statement of faith as part of her employment.
The second lady's spokesperson, Kara Brooks, decried the controversy surrounding Pence's decision to return to teaching at Immanuel Christian School. “It’s absurd that her decision to teach art to children at a Christian school, and the school’s religious beliefs, are under attack," she said to the HuffPost. For her part, the second lady has only commented publicly on her excitement about her reentry into the teaching world. "I am excited to be back in the classroom and doing what I love to do. I have missed teaching art," she told USA Today in a Jan. 15 statement.
Pence and her husband have always espoused conservative values. Indeed, in a March 2017 Washington Post article about the couple, journalist Ashley Parker characterized Pence as a "force" behind Mike's support for conservative legislation. This includes his opposition to gay marriage and his support for legislation as governor of Indiana that allowed businesses to refuse service due to religious reservations (a law that some believe could lead to discrimination against LGBTQ individuals).
At least one LGBTQ advocacy organization condemned Pence's decision to teach at the Immanuel Christian School, suggesting that she should seek employment at a more inclusive institution. JoDee Winterhof, the senior vice president for policy and political affairs at the Human Rights Campaign, said to the HuffPost:
Why not teach at a school that welcomes everyone, instead of choosing one that won’t serve LGBTQ kids, kids of LGBTQ parents? The Pences never seem to miss an opportunity to show their public service only extends to some.
Pence was slated to begin her new job at Immanuel Christian School on Monday, though classes were cancelled due to a snowstorm in the Washington, D.C. area, the Associated Press reported.