Christian preschool to shut down, fears transgender bathroom policies will compromise teachings

A mostly state-funded Christian preschool in Pensacola, Florida will shut down in May after 40 years of service to the local community over fears that the government's transgender bathroom policies could force it to compromise its Bible-based teachings.

(REUTERS / Jonathan Drake)A bathroom sign welcomes both genders at the Cacao Cinnamon coffee shop in Durham, North Carolina, U.S. on May 3, 2016.

In an interview with The Christian Post, Gateway Christian Preschool director Barbara Deem said shutting down the outreach ministry was the decision of the Gateway Church of Christ elders. The move stemmed from fears that its participation in a Voluntary pre-kindergarten subsidy program funded by the government could one day force it to create bathrooms specifically for transgender children or to change its curriculum.

The Gateway Christian Preschool has been part of the subsidy program since 2005. Under the VPK program, the state provides funding to qualified 4-year-olds to pay for their pre-kindergarten classes. According to the Post, Deem said that the program offsets around 60 percent of the enrollment, while the tuition for the remaining 40 percent composed of children ages 1 to 3 is shouldered by the parents.

Deem said a lot of people have expressed concern over the preschool being a recipient of state funding and how people could have a say in what the institution should teach.

"Basically, they were asking whether or not there is separation of church and state, can your status as an independent entity be challenged because you may not want to go with what is politically correct?" Deem explained to the Post. "They cite things such as installing transgender bathrooms or teaching values that are opposed to what the church actually stands for and the values that each independent church holds high."

In Michigan, a 14-year-old transgender student named Kylie Clifton and her mother Ginger have expressed worry over the potential changes in her situation after the Trump administration issued guidelines to reverse existing transgender bathroom policies. Ginger told People that their concerns remain even if Michigan is a community that welcomes LGBT individuals.

Kylie, on the other hand, said she is scared of being scrutinized when she enters a bathroom that other people assume she should not use. Nevertheless, she is enjoying the support and help that her school administrators are giving to her and to others like her.