The Colorado Independent’s Tessa Cheek reports on a growing controversy in Longmont surrounding a charter school, Twin Peaks Charter Academy, and the decision by the school’s principal to prevent the valedictorian of this year’s graduating class from delivering an address that included a statement he is gay. The story has received a great deal of press coverage both in Colorado and nationally, and attracted the scrutiny of Rep. Jared Polis, himself openly gay.
In the Independent’s latest story yesterday, we see that the more Polis looks into this charter school, the less there is to appreciate about their politics:
Embattled Twin Peaks Charter Academy will keep its lawyer, Barry Arrington, despite a request from Congressman Jared Polis that Arrington, who has an anti-gay track record, be fired.
“Mr. Arrington is a highly qualified attorney and is not being removed as counsel from Twin Peaks Charter Academy,” the school’s spokeswoman Tracy Weise told The Colorado Independent in an email. “Mr. Polis has no jurisdiction, and is completely overstepping his bounds to even suggest that he has the right, to make recommendations on how Twin Peaks Charter Academy is managed.”
Arrington raised eyebrows this week in a back-and-forth with Polis, who has been critical of the school’s decision not to let valedictorian Evan Young give a graduation speech in which he came out as gay. Polis has asked for a third-party investigation of the school’s decision and overall inclusiveness, ideally conducted by a LGBTQ-rights group.
As it turns out, Twin Peaks’ attorney Barry Arrington is himself rather…opinionated when it comes to gay people–which makes a lot of sense in light of the way the school treated its gay valedictorian:
For his part, Arrington has written publicly about the necessity of heterosexuality as a function of intelligent design. [Pols emphasis] He also represented defendants, including Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, charged with using a gay couple’s engagement photo for a political attack ad without their knowledge or permission. Arrington is also the former president of the Rocky Mountain Family Council, the mission of which is, “to promote God’s design for parents and children by supporting families…”
“Mr. Arrington has a long history of working for anti-LGBT organizations and using his blog to condemn same-sex relationships. Because Twin Peaks Charter Academy is keeping him on as counsel, they seem to have no problem with his public views concerning LGBT people,” said Dave Montez, director of LGBTQ-rights group One Colorado. “Every school in Colorado should be safe for all students and we are concerned that having an attorney on staff with clear ties to anti-LGBT organizations is preventing the school from being welcoming of all students.”
Bottom line: Twin Peaks Charter Academy does not advertise itself as a religious school, but it does claim to offer a curriculum of “the foundations of virtue and character,” in order to “achieve the highest standards in academics and ethics.” Charter schools must be non-religious like any other public school by law, but if the discriminatory actions of the school’s principal and statements by the school’s high-profile attorney are any guide–not to mention said attorney’s long history of overtly religious advocacy–it’s reasonable to question just what kind of education Twin Peaks Charter Academy is providing to its students with taxpayer dollars.
Because as of now, that’s looking a bit, well, questionable.