Austin ISD School Board members are facing backlash after they recently considered a new policy that would discriminate against Christians.
In the past month, the board has contemplated banning a local church from using AISD facilities. Georgetown-based Celebration Church has been renting an AISD performing arts center for weekly Sunday services, but board members recently discussed shutting them out for one simple reason: Celebration Church holds the traditional belief that marriage is between a man and a woman.
Current AISD policy allows churches to rent school facilities on the same terms as all other community organizations, but the school board now wants to change that.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is the latest to weigh in on the matter, releasing a letter Friday that cautioned the district to not move forward with the decision to discriminate against the church.
“Despite its current commitment to equal access, the District’s decision to change the facilities use policy is troubling because of the timing and intent of trustees,” the letter said. “Austin ISD trustee Ann Teich is on record stating that, in reference to Celebration Church renting the District’s Performing Arts Center, she is ‘not in favor of renting to any entity that doesn’t support our values . . . and that’s full inclusion of our LGBT community.’”
AISD Trustee Jayme Mathias echoed Teich’s remarks and said that Celebration had “values [that] did not align with those of the district.”
Government entities, like AISD, are not allowed to engage in viewpoint discrimination against citizens. Such discrimination violates the United States and Texas constitutions.
“The district should welcome churches who want to rent its facilities after school and on weekends,” Paxton’s letter said, “not discriminate against some of them based on their beliefs.”