President Trump applauds Karen Pence for teaching at anti-LGBT school
President Donald Trump has applauded Second Lady Karen Pence for her decision to return to teaching at an anti-LGBT school in Virginia.
Trump addressed the audience on Thursday (February 7) at the yearly National Prayer Breakfast, an event hosted by members of Congress and the Christian organisation The Fellowship Foundation.
The president took a moment to greet Vice President Mike Pence and his wife, particularly focusing on the latter.
“By the way, I’ve gotten to know Karen so well,” Trump said.
“She’s a marine corps mom, a tremendous woman, a proud supporter of military families and she just recently went back to teaching art classes at a Christian school. Thank you: Thank you, Karen,” the president continued, joining in the applause.
After the applause subsided, he added: “Terrific woman,” before proceeding with his speech, which included a strong anti-abortion message.
Karen Pence was criticised for teaching at a school banning LGBT+ students and staff
The second lady was heavily criticised by LGBT+ advocates for her decision to return to teach art at the Immanuel Christian School, which explicitly bans LGBT+ students and staff.
The school’s website states that students can be refused admission if they support or take part in “sexual immorality, homosexual activity or bisexual activity.”
“It’s disturbing that [Karen Pence] and [President Trump] would put their stamp of approval on an institution that actively targets LGBTQ students.”
The school’s employment policy also defines “moral misconduct” that could result in not being hired or being fired as including: “homosexual or lesbian sexual activity, polygamy, transgender identity.”
Reacting to a tweet by Think Progress LGBT Editor Zack Ford, who noted Trump’s statement about Karen Pence, LGBT+ media monitoring organisation GLAAD stated: “It’s disturbing that @ and @ would put their stamp of approval on an institution that actively targets LGBTQ students.”
While Trump had previously not commented on the teaching job, the vice president had called criticism of the Christian school’s anti-LGBT policy “deeply offensive.”
“To see major news organisations attacking Christian education is deeply offensive to us,” Mike Pence told the Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN), a cable network that describes itself as delivering “news from a Catholic perspective.”
“We have a rich tradition in America of Christian education and frankly religious education broadly defined,” he continued, ignoring the issue of discrimination against LGBT+ people and framing the debate in terms of religious freedoms.
While the interviewer did not ask the vice president any further questions on the topic, performer Lady Gaga criticised him for associating anti-LGBT discrimination with Christian beliefs.
“And to Mike Pence, who thinks it’s acceptable that his wife works at a school that bans LGBTQ—you’re wrong,” Gaga said while performing in Las Vegas on January 20.
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“You say we should not discriminate against Christianity.
“You are the worst representation of what it means to be a Christian.”
Gaga added: “I am a Christian woman, and what I do know about Christianity is that we bear no prejudice and everybody is welcome.
“So you can take all that disgrace, Mr. Pence, and you can look yourself in the mirror and you’ll find it right there.”