Santa Fe Christian school discouraged same-sex couple from applying

Santa Fe Christian school discouraged same-sex couple from applying
Encinitas City Councilman Joe Mosca, left, and spouse Matt Bosse pose with sons Devan, left, and Garrett. The family said that Santa Fe Christian recently discouraged them from applying for Garrett because they are a same-sex couple.

When Matt Bosse began looking for a middle school for his 10-year- old, Garrett, several friends told him to consider Santa Fe Christian Middle School, a school known for rigorous academics, proud athletics and a Bible-based curriculum.

After all, they said, Garrett is a high-character, straight-A student at Olivenhain Pioneer Elementary School, an altar boy at his Episcopalian Church and plays competitive lacrosse.

So it came as a surprise, Bosse said, when school admissions director Vicki O’Rourke late last year discouraged him from applying because they weren’t the type of family that would be welcome at the school.

The reason, Bosse said? Because Garrett has two fathers.

Bosse’s spouse is Encinitas City Councilman Joe Mosca, who became the city’s first openly gay councilman when he was appointed in 2017. Bosse and Mosca said they were “shocked” and “disappointed” by the school’s decision, which they called outdated.

“It was the first time in our experience that we have faced that sort of discrimination,” Bosse said. “We respect SFC and their right to run the school, but in this day in age, it seems antiquated.”

Mosca echoed Bosse’s sentiments.

“When they told us that we weren’t invited to apply because we were two dads it was shock to us,” Mosca said. “Hopefully by telling our story it can effect some change.” Santa Fe Christian Middle School Director Todd Deveau said in a statement that the school doesn’t comment on specific admission decisions, but commented on the school’s admissions practices.

Encinitas City Councilman Joe Mosca, left, and spouse Matt Bosse pose with sons Devan, left, and Garrett. The family said that Santa Fe Christian recently discouraged them from applying for Garrett because they are a same-sex couple.

“While we do not provide details on matters involving students or prospective students, I can say that our policy is to encourage the family of any student committed to academic excellence and spiritual development to apply,” Deveau wrote. “As a matter of practice, we do not attempt to persuade or dissuade prospective families from applying.

“At the same time, as part of the admissions process, we make clear to prospective applicants that they will be joining a Bible-based community designed to disciple students to embrace
biblical truth,” Deveau’s statement continued. “This is our mission and our purpose, and a vital component of the SFCS experience.”

According to the school’s website, Santa Fe Christian’s admissions season begins in October, and includes two rounds of applications, an entrance exam and a family interview.

The goal, according to the website, is to “match students/families with our school mission statement by evaluating applicants on the spiritual, academic and behavioral requirements identified in the admissions criteria.”

Among the four-prong admissions criteria is “spiritual commitment,” which requires one parent to be a Christian and at least one parent and the child currently attend a “Christ-centered” church, and show a sustained commitment to said church, including pastoral references. Parents must also agree with the school’s statement of faith and provide a written Christian testimony, although it is preferred that both parents provide written faith testimonies.

Parents must also sign a so-called “Parent Commitment Form” that indicates their support and compliance with the philosophy, statement of faith, spiritual goals, policies, practices and
objectives of the schools.

The admissions criteria also includes a behavior section. While the section only specifically calls out drugs and alcohol use as a disqualifying offense (prospective students must be drug and alcohol free for a full semester before being admitted) and does not call out homosexuality, it includes a requirement that “students and parents must exhibit behavior, both in and out of
school, that is consistent with SFCS’ Christian values.”

Mosca said that he and Bosse regularly attend St. Andrews Episcopal Church in Encinitas, where Garrett is an active volunteer at the church’s homeless shelter. Both Bosse and Mosca said they were raised in devout Catholic families.

The family stressed that they are very happy with the public school education they are receiving at OPE, but with their oldest heading to middle school, they wanted to explore all of the different options.

Both men said that when they told the friends who had encouraged them to consider Santa Fe Christian — parents at OPE who had attended the private school themselves — they, too, were shocked.

“We have a lot of really amazing people in our lives that we trust and respect and that have actually gone to the school or have sent kids to the school, and they don’t know that that is the policy,” Mosca said. “And they would never support that policy.”

“It would be surprising if the Santa Fe Christian community knew they (admissions directors) were delivering this type of message,” Bosse added. “Most of our friends involved with the school don’t practice that type of Christianity.”

Unlike public schools, which fall under both federal and state anti-discrimination laws such as Title IX and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, private schools that don’t accept federal or state funding have no such protections, experts said.

Courts have ruled that religious schools are exempt from those statutes because they would infringe on the school and parent church’s free right to exercise its religious beliefs.

In California, the Unruh Act bars discrimination based on sex, race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, age, disability, medical condition, genetic information, marital status or sexual
orientation by businesses. The courts in 2009, however, have ruled that the laws don’t apply to private religious schools because they aren’t businesses.

Paul Castillo is a senior attorney and students’ rights strategist with Lambda Legal, the nation’s oldest and largest LGBTQ legal organization. Castillo said that nationally, the current administration has emboldened discrimination of LGBTQ students, both by individuals and institutions.

“You have an Administration that continues to erode protections for LGBT people in every facet of life,” Castillo said. “It sends a horrible message that discrimination aimed at vulnerable
populations is not only acceptable; it’s encouraged.

“The sad reality is that LGBT students, many of whom are bullied, harassed and suffer discrimination at a private religious organizations have very few options,” Castillo said.

Bosse and Mosca both said they weren’t looking to punish the school or to force them to admit Garrett. They just wanted to raise public awareness to the fact that discrimination of this kind still exists.

“We actually appreciate them being up front about it,” Bosse said. “The last thing we want to do

is subject our son to any discrimination. It’s just sad that it still exists.”

5 Comments
  1. blah 1 day ago

    Perhaps they should try applying to Cathedral Catholic or Horizon Prep.

  2. Joe 1 day ago

    Santa Fe Christian also also bought a lot near me and ignored every zoning law. Tried to build a sports field in a residential zone, without permits. Put up an 8ft fence, 6ft is the law. Moved a lot of dirt, including blocking off the only runoff source, again, no permit. They got shut down twice. Even sprayed pesticides and then plowed. They are not good Christians and even worse neighbors. Jesus would be ashamed of these hypocrites. Not the people to leave your kids alone with.

  3. Joe 1 day ago

    Different Joe commenting BTW, not Mosca.

  4. Sfc parent 1 day ago

    I’m appalled that a gay couple comes to a “bible-based” school & then claims to be discriminated against & given “very few options”. I know a lot of gay people who have used some common sense in order to feel less violated. Ie don’t run headlong in the direction of a Bible based school looking for an education for your son who is raised in a home that holds very different views & then act like a victim. As a Christian, I begin to feel that very same way- indeed attacked. We are once again called “antiquated”, old-fashioned, inflexible. Can you begin to imagine what would happen if I called you a name? Every corner I turn, MY “right” to embrace the Bible as infallible is challenged. You don’t see me running to Coast News with that fact. You sirs, need to dig deeper & look at the agenda you had in the first place, Mr. Councilman who doesn’t “wish to punish”, only wishing to enlighten the world that we really believe what we say we believe at SFC. No agenda for sure.

  5. Blessed Parent 1 day ago

    The idea that other parents of the school were shocked and had told them they would have no problem during the admissions process is curious. As a parent, been there 12 years, I would not think that any involved family would feel that a same-sex couple would pass the admissions process. Seriously, why would a parent want their kid in school that does not support a parents lifestyle? It’s a biblically based, private school and they have the right to adhere to their beliefs. As with any school, we parent our kids and have open communication about the pro’s and con’s of decisions and beliefs of other families, teachers, coaches and administration. They are not judging, they are simply living their faith. The Bishops school, which is Episcopalian, is an excellent choice these two parents have available to them. This is simply bait to promote activism.

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