Jupiter School's Stance on Expulsion of Gay Student

( [email protected] ) Nov 14, 2003 11:32 AM EST

In August, a gay student, Jeffrey Woodard of Jupiter Christian School, was expelled because he openly admitted that he was way. A lawsuit was filed by Jeffrey Woodard and his mother, Carol Gload, because of the obscure reason given by the school on the expulsion of Woodard.

In a legal response to the lawsuit, Jupiter School officials said they expelled Jeffrey Woodard because of his bad grades and his tuition hadn’t been paid, which weren’t mentioned at first, according to Woodard and his mother.

Carol Gload still doesn’t think it is right for Jeffrey to be expelled after attending the school for three years and for admitting himself as a gay when he was first asked by his teacher whether or not he was gay.

"Jeffrey Woodard, an academically ineligible, unregistered student, was telling other students on campus that he was homosexual, which is a lifestyle we believe is not in accord with the biblical values we teach our children, and when we tried to talk to him and his mother about it they refused to work with us," school President Rich Grimm said in an address to parents Monday night that was released on the school's Web site on Tuesday. "Why did we expel him? In the end, his mother gave us no choice."

Woodard's attorney Trent Steele thinks the school is using this to defend their reason of expulsion.

"The only matter discussed at the [meeting before Woodard was expelled] was Jeffrey's sexual orientation," Steele said. "Any attempts by them to attack Jeffrey for these other side issues they've created after the fact is really unfortunate."

The school’s stance on homosexuality was clear. In the statement to parents, Grimm said homosexuality is “a form of sexual immorality,” and “it is a sin that violates God's natural plan for marriage, a man and a woman joining together and becoming as one. And through our Christian School Philosophy we ask all parents to cooperate with us and to teach their children ... the biblical view of dating, marriage and the family."

However, Grimm said the school is not “anti-gay.” He continued, "If we're anti-anything, we are anti-sin. And that is because we are pro-Christ.”

Grimm said the school would determine whether gay students would be admitted on a case-by-case basis.

The school says if Woodard and his mother showed some willingness to understand school’s position on homosexuality, they wouldn’t have expelled him.

"If Jeffrey Woodard and his mother had shown any willingness to understand and consider the school's position on homosexuality, and to allow us to work with Jeffrey in a Christ-like manner, Jeffrey might well still be a student at Jupiter Christian School," Grimm's statement said.

In the legal response, the school presented Gload informing her son’s poor academic performance. In one letter sent out in May, Woodard was asked not to be enrolled in the school because he failed Spanish and Algebra II.

Woodard and Gload declined comment.

But school officials noted in their legal response that according to the school's Parent's Statement of Agreement, the school could "dismiss any child at any time for unacceptable work, conduct, and any other reason it deems necessary."

Steele said this clause is not listed in the parent handbook, to which Gload referred before making a decision to enroll her son whom she knew was gay.

Grimm and school attorney John L. Bryan also declined comment.

"We're not asking this school to change its policies prohibiting gays and lesbians. We just want them to tell Jeffrey this is their policy, and this is why they expelled him ... so no other students have to go through this public outing and embarrassment," Steele said.

Bryan said in the response that Gload signed an agreement, which states among many things, that the school teaches the student a "biblical view of dating, marriage and the family." However Steele said Woodard did not sign the policies.

Bryan said an arbitration hearing is binding, according to the school's policy. The school and Woodard must attend a hearing in Palm Beach County Circuit Court to determine whether arbitration will take place.