Georgetown, Texas-based Celebration Church, which is anti-gay, has been renting the Performing Arts Center in Austin, Texas, which monetarily benefited the school district. So gay rights advocates have protested outside each week, telling district to stop renting the facility to the church because its views are against the district’s inclusive values.
After months of lobbying and protests, the Austin school district will put $10,000 of the rental fees generated by Celebration Church toward funding its participation in the annual Austin Pride Parade and other LGBT activities, according to The Statesman.
The church’s website previously referenced Bible verses stating homosexuality, bisexuality and disagreeing with one’s biological sex is a sin.
Originally, school district officials in September considered limiting the center’s use by outside entities, including the church. But Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office warned the district that preventing the church from using the center would violate state law and the First Amendment, according to The Statesman.
Instead of limiting the church’s use, the school district has received more than $182,000 from the rental since September. The church is among 41 other churches that rent facilities from the district.
About $4,000 of the $10,000 that comes from the center’s rental fees will go toward transportation to boost students’ participation in the Pride parade, scheduled for Aug. 10. The other $6,000 will pay for security for students who participate in the parade, printing materials and resources, supplies for campus-based Pride activities and promotional materials.
“Our core value is supporting all students, making sure all our students have a welcoming environment. We do have a core value of equity, diversity, and inclusion in this district,” Jacob Reach, the Austin district’s chief of staff, told The Statesman. “We felt our inclusion of Pride week was a good choice. Every year, the organizers of that event have struggled to find donations, money, and support to be able to include AISD students and teachers in this event. So we were able to set aside for them so they don’t have go out and try to raise the money.”