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Education

Christian school fires teacher for being a ‘gay father’ and we don’t know about you but that doesn’t sound very Christian to us

Nick Duffy October 21, 2020
Steven Arauz, a sixth-grade teacher at Forest Lake Education Center

Steven Arauz, a sixth-grade teacher at Forest Lake Education Center

A Florida teacher has been fired from his job at a Christian school after speaking publicly about his experiences as a gay foster carer.

Steven Arauz, a sixth-grade teacher at Forest Lake Education Center in the Orlando suburb of Longwood, was fired over a June interview with online magazine Gays With Kids, in which he spoke about becoming a foster carer and helping needy children.

Frank Runnels, the superintendent of the Seventh-day Adventist private school, had emailed Arauz about the interview, objecting to its description of him as a “gay father.”

The email warned him: “This conduct, if true, does not comport with the Seventh-day Adventist church’s standards and the education program at FLEC.”

Teacher was fired for breach of church values.

Arauz, who grew up in the church and had taught at Adventist schools across Florida for eight years, was ultimately dismissed from his job for the claimed breach of conduct rules requiring faculty to “live in accordance with the teachings of the Seventh-day Adventist Church”.

The teacher told the Orlando Sentinel that co-workers at the school, which receives both state and federal education funding, were aware he was gay long before the interview published. He has appeared across many media outlets previously promoting fostering and adoption, but had never previously referenced his sexuality in public.

He said: “The irony is that, as Christians, we like to say, ‘Everyone belongs. Come as you are and follow Jesus’, but then if they find something they don’t agree with, you’re thrown out.”

Arauz previously explained that his religious beliefs drew him towards becoming a foster parent, taking in countless children over the years, and becoming the adoptive father in 2016 to a 10-year-old boy.

Teacher Steven Arauz had spoken about becoming a foster parent, and becoming the adoptive father in 2016 to a ten-year-old boy.
Steven Arauz had spoken in many media interviews about becoming a foster parent, and becoming the adoptive father in 2016 to a ten-year-old boy. (WFTV)

David Dodge, executive editor of Gays With Kids, told the Sentinel: “It’s incredibly upsetting that Steven’s employer used an article on our site, which we wrote to celebrate his selfless contributions to his community as a foster dad, as evidence in their decision to terminate his employment.”

Joe Saunders of Equality Florida added: “Our position is that if you are a private school in Florida, you should not be discriminating against LGBTQ faculty or staff, and you shouldn’t be denying assets of the school to LGBTQ students.

“But particularly if you are a voucher-funded school that is receiving public education dollars, you have an obligation to make sure that you’re open for all.”

According to the newspaper, the teacher has now found a new job working for a charity that provides clothing for disadvantaged young people, while his son has been enrolled in the public school district.

More: Florida, Orlando, Seventh-day Adventist

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