Longmont Public Charter School Has A Hater Side

Attorney Barry Arrington.

Attorney Barry Arrington.

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.

Rep. Jared Polis.

Rep. Jared Polis.

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.

20 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. bullshit! says:

    Why not just follow the Douglas County model and directly fund your religious hater schools?

  2. FrankUnderwood says:

    Is this the same Barry Arrington who, along w/ Penn Pffifner, Mark Pashall, Jim Congrove, and Mike Feeley turned Jeffco from red to blue?

  3. Moderatus says:

    When will liberals understand that requesting solemnity does not mean discrimination? Stop using this poor kid for your political aims.

    • Conserv. Head Banger says:

      So you're advocating that the school was correct to censor the kid and not allow him to come out of the closet in his speech? 

      I would see this announcement as nothing more than that; an announcement. For me, it’s much more benign than some kid trying to proselytize to a captive audience about his or her love for Jesus and how everyone has to find Jesus.

    • FrankUnderwood says:

      Requesting solemnity?  Is that what we're calling bigotry now. Moddy, I got to give you credit for your euphemisms.

      Do you know how many teenagers have killed themselves thanks to the climate that your homophobic friends have nurtured over the years? Do you know how many others seriously considered it but didn't go through with it in hope that things would get better?

      And things will continue to get better — save for a few bigoted bakeries and florists, Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee. The 62% who voted for marriage equality in Catholic Ireland last month is proof of that.


    • BlueCat says:

      How does this interfere with "solemnity"? Maybe you meant "dignity" because such speeches often include a little humor. I didn't read anywhere that he planned to make his statement while juggling or tearing off a break away robe with nothing but speedo underneath or set to a silly tune or anything. What is it that you don't understand about dignity, little modster?

      • mamajama55 says:

        A Valedictorian speech typically includes how the speaker overcame challenges in his / her life, and what lessons were learned in the struggle. A coming-out-as-gay story fits right in.

        But if those stories are heard, then the speaker is seen as a human being – as opposed to an easily categorizable "sinner" or "deviant". True stories are powerful that way.

  4. Canines says:

    Back in 1994, he was one of the primary advocates of a state amendment that would “allow every local government in the state to define what’s obscene.

    By my own definition, the look on that attorney's face is obscene.

  5. ElliotFladen says:

    Last time I checked Polis didn't lose his first amendment rights when he got elected to Congress

    • exlurker19 says:

      Ca tombe comme un cheveu sur la soupe.

    • Jared Polis says:

      No one disputes his right to be a bigot or whatever else he wants to be in his personal life. He has every right to hate gay people and still to practice law, even education law. 

      The issue is that because of his passionate beliefs about gay people, he probably isn't the best person to offer impartial advice to the Twin Peaks board in a matter involving a gay student. I believe that the bizarre actions from Twin Peaks that have politicized this issue, tried to fundraise off of it, and even attacked their own Validictorian personally likely stem from his advice. When reasonable people think his course of action is hurting the school for his own agenda, there is an appearance of impropriety even if he truly is (which I doubt) setting his biases at the door in this matter.

      Hence it is in the interests of the school to remove him or if they really like his advice in other matters at least recuse him from matters relating to LGBT students due to his public and strong convictions in these matters.

      If a school was facing a civil rights investigation over racial discrimination it would be tone deaf at best and nefarious at worst for them to hire an otherwise qualified attorney who happened to be a KKK Grand Wizard in his spare time. same here.

      Jared Polis

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