Ontario (Calif.) Christian School expelled a ninth-grade student in September when the administration learned her mother was living with her longtime lesbian partner.
The school board’s decision evoked worldwide media attention, an onslaught of calls and e-mails, and a parade of protestors outside the high school building.
Superintendent Leonard Stob said that the mother, Tina Clark, met all of the school’s criteria when she enrolled her daughter Shay. Clark submitted a pastoral recommendation from an approved evangelical Christian church, signed her agreement with the school’s policies, and passed through the interview process.
Just weeks into the school year, however, administrators contacted the Clark home to discuss a situation involving Shay. In that context, a close family friend reported a monogamous lesbian relationship, which the mother confirmed.
Stob said the school had already developed “a very explicit policy” regarding homosexuality, although they do not publish it for people to sign. “Historical Christianity does not embrace homosexuality, so this should not come as a surprise to anyone,” said Stob. “Christian schools are free to take this position.”
Clark, who attends Calvary Chapel in Chino Hills, said in an interview that she considers her lifestyle to be a Christian one. She and her partner have been together for 22 years. “I was not aware of this policy in the Board of Trustees book,” she said. “We never would have enrolled our child if we knew about this.”
Clark said her older daughter attended Ontario Christian School for four years. She said both her name and her partner’s name were on the paperwork and “everybody was fully aware.”
Dianne De Groot, the school’s director of admissions, said the enrollment forms for both of Tina Clark’s daughters contained only Clark’s name, though her partner was listed as an emergency contact.
“I’m disappointed in the school,” Clark said. She is considering legal action and is also under a contract to appear on a national television show, which she declined to name.
Stob said his team is following the school’s conflict-management plan and is doing its best to handle a “complicated and explosive situation.”
About the Authors
Rev. Bonny Mulder-Behnia serves as family ministries pastor for Rosewood Christian Reformed Church in Bellflower, Calif.
Gayla Postma retired as news editor for The Banner in 2020.