A married same-sex couple in Louisiana was allegedly told their newly adopted daughter could not attend kindergarten at a religious school because of their “lifestyle choices.”
Emily and Jennie Parker said they learned on Saturday they needed to find a new school for their 5-year-old daughter, Zoey, because their marriage didn’t adhere to the teachings at the Bible Baptist Academy in DeQuincy, they told NBC News Wednesday during a phone interview.
“Because of our lifestyle choices, we wouldn’t be a good fit for the school,” Jennie Parker, 31, said they were told during a meeting with a pastor and the school’s director.
Emily Parker, 28, said during the meeting only two days before the school year was set to begin, the pastor told her Bible Baptist Academy was a religious-based institution that taught more than just academics. She says he told her marriage is between a man and a woman only and that is what was taught at the school.
Zoey attended pre-school at the school last year and had many friends there and loved her teachers, the couple said.
No one with the Bible Baptist Academy was immediately reached on Wednesday. According to a statement posted on the school’s website:
"At BBA, we are committed to instructing and living in accordance with the teachings of Scripture. We believe that the Bible teaches that every life has value and that there is dignity in all of us because we have been created in the image of God. The Bible also teaches us to love everyone with the love of God despite their personal choices. We strive to teach this to the students who attend. We encourage them to show love and compassion to everyone,” the school said. “As a Baptist academy, we are also committed to provide an environment that is consistent with the beliefs that we hold. We want our students to not only know our beliefs, but we want them to see them as well. Regarding personal relationships, we hold that those relationships, whether in dating or in marriage, should be between a man and a woman.”
The school also said in the statement, “There are times where our commitment to upholding our Christian values will not line up with the values of other people. This should not be interpreted that we have any hatred or malice toward them.”
Emily Parker, who is Zoey’s biological aunt, adopted the 5-year-old on Aug. 3 after Zoey's father died at 22 following an accident at his job in September 2020, she said.
The Parkers have been married since 2016.
When they were told why their daughter could not attend school at the Bible Baptist Academy, Emily Parker said she was insulted and slightly embarrassed.
“We’ve never been confronted so bluntly about our relationship,” she said. “Our love, our marriage, has always felt natural. Our families have always made us feel like we are two people who love each other. This was a big slap in the face.”
She added that as a private school, school administrators can apparently determine who can go there. However, “They don’t get to discriminate quietly,” Emily Parker said.
The couple said in hindsight, they are glad their daughter is not being taught at the Bible Baptist Academy.
Since the weekend meeting with school officials, the couple said public and private schools have reached out to them.
Jennie Parker said their treatment has not shaken their faith in Christianity. In fact, the opposite occurred.
“There are good Christians out there. The whole community of DeQuincy has showed us what it is to be a good Christian and to not preach hate like this,” she said. “They are the reason why we kept faith.”
Zoey was enrolled this week in the Hamilton Christian School in Lake Charles, her parents said.