A state-funded Christian preschool in Florida will close in May over fears that government regulations could force staff to make bathroom accommodation available to transgender children and compromise its religious teachings.
Gateway Christian Preschool, an outreach ministry of the Gateway Church of Christ in Pensacola, will shut down having served its community for more than 40 years.
The preschool’s director, Barbara Deem, told The Christian Post that the choice was made by her church’s elders after they concluded that the preschool, plus its public subsidy, could become a “liability” to the church.
Gateway Christian Preschool has been an active participant in Florida’s pre-kindergarten subsidy program since it started it 2005. The program offers four-year-olds state funding to offset the costs of classes that prepare them for kindergarten.
Deem said that the funding from the government pays for about 60 per cent of the preschool’s enrollment, noting that the state provides about $2,300 for every four-year-old annually. Families of the other 40 per cent of the preschool’s children, aged between one and three, pay fees.
“There has always been some concern among a lot of people with taking any kind of government dollars as to whether or not the people could have a say in what you teach, your curriculum, whether or not it is a separation of church and state issue,” the preschool director told the site.
“We have built in a protection in our contract with the local coalition office that provides our services for the VPK so that we have time throughout the day that the state is not paying for in order to alleviate any possibility of being challenged on teaching Christian values on the government dollar.”