Queen Creek, AZ

Gay dads told to "Stay Away" from daughter's Queen Creek school

Timothy Rawles

The Heart Cry Church in Queen CreekPhoto byGoogle Maps

Two dads co-parenting a 10-year-old daughter say they were asked to leave Heart Cry Academy, the private Christian school she attends in Queen Creek.

Don Williams and Jose Ortega say that the pastor of the school was forthright with his conviction that other parents didn’t want them near their children.

“He made it clear to us that people bring their kids to him to stay away from people like us,” Ortega told The Arizona Republic.

The child in question is the daughter of Williams from a previous marriage. Under her legal authority, she enrolled the little girl in Heart Cry Academy.

It’s reported that the two men visited the campus in January to introduce themselves to the staff and that is when it became clear their relationship was unacceptable to the school. Williams says Pastor Billy VanCamp remarked, “homosexuality is not welcomed and not allowed” during their visit. Williams’ husband recounts the interaction in the Republic.

“I said, 'I'm still her stepdad, and as long as she is in my life and as long as she is attending the school, I'm going to be a part of it,'" Ortega recalls. "And he said, 'Well, you are not welcome here.' So, I was like, 'Are you threatening me?' And he said, 'Try me.' Clearly, he is threatening me, and, at that point, I felt very unsafe."

The anti-gay sentiment was enforced by others at the school. One staff member told Williams that if admissions had known the girl’s dad was gay she would have never been admitted.

"Supposedly, as her father, I can pick her up and drop her off. I, supposedly, can come to any school event, but they have made it known that I am not welcomed at all," William said.

Obeying the school’s request Williams drops his daughter off without walking her in. But he is concerned that the school’s homophobia might be being taught to his daughter.

So far, Williams' ex-wife has not responded to the incident and neither has Heart Cry.

Heart Cry uses a voucher program, a government-sanctioned financial aid that the school accepts. This voucher system was recently expanded to help all children attend charter or private schools in Arizona. It hasn’t been confirmed that Williams used this assistance to enroll their daughter.

Moreover, Arizona residents aren’t protected by LGBTQ non-discrimination laws. That means the community is not safeguarded against discrimination in housing, employment, or public accommodations. Conversely, LGBTQ state employees have been protected since 2003.

Since that is the case, the Arizona Department of Education has no recourse but to stay out of it. A spokesperson for that agency told the dads to take civil action in court.

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Timothy Rawles has been a journalist for over 20 years. He has written for global publications in San Francisco, San Diego, and Phoenix. His favorite stories are features, interviews, entertainment news, and local stories.

San Tan Valley, AZ

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