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Lesbian student’s honesty costs her a place at Connecticut Christian school

The Hartford Courant
By Susan Campbell
Thursday, September 8, 2011

WEST SIMSBURY, Conn. — Rachel Aviles was one of the most popular kids at The Master’s School, a K-12 Christian school in West Simsbury. She played sports, kept her grades up, and enthusiastically signed up for any extracurricular activity that would have her, this despite the fact that she isn’t a Christian, though she insists she respects the faith.

Master’s was good for her. And she was good for Master’s.

This was to be her senior year and a former coach says she would have been up for all kinds of awards. But last spring she went on a class trip where several students, Aviles among them, pretended to be married. They made “wifey” phone calls to one another. They held hands — not unusual among same-sex friends at Master’s, Aviles said.

“Looking back, it was kind of stupid,” said Aviles, of Hartford. “But it was harmless.”

Word got back to the administration, and the students were called in and questioned about their sexual orientation. When it was her turn, Aviles told administrators that she is a lesbian. Her friends knew. Teachers didn’t.

Aviles said she was encouraged to withdraw, rather than be expelled. “It was a not thinly veiled threat,” said Beth Miller, who met Aviles when the student applied to Hartford Youth Scholars Foundation in ’07.

Legally, private schools — secular and otherwise — have more leeway as to whom to accept within their ranks. The school’s headmaster, Jon Holley, said he wouldn’t discuss Aviles because of privacy concerns, but Aviles’ former coach, Heather Lodovico, said when she withdrew, Aviles sent her coach a text message.

“She texted me and said something like ‘They kicked me out,’ and I made a joke, ‘What, are you pregnant?’ and she said, ‘No, worse. I’m gay,’” said Lodovico.

The coach said she immediately got on the phone to see if the decision could be reversed, but no.

“She’s a fantastic kid,” said Lodovico. “My reaction was: ‘Wow. Your God’s really small.’ Whether it’s a sin or not, take that out of the picture, and this is still wrong. I think God’s up there shaking His head going, ‘Really? Really?’

“From what I understand from talking to Master’s, it wasn’t the place for her,” she said. “She wasn’t a Christian and since she believed she’s gay, Master’s was not a fix for her. She could withdraw or they would expel her.”

Lodovico said she didn’t know her student’s sexual orientation. “It never came up,” she said. “I had no idea.”

Nor did she think Master’s would take this stance.

“I wouldn’t say they were liberal, but they were laid-back,” said Lodovico. “I never saw anything about Master’s that would lead me to believe they would do something like this. One of the things they pride themselves on is they let kids be unique and express themselves.”

Lodovico has since moved to Florida to teach and coach.

“They say they accept all religions, they don’t discriminate,” she said. “They’re holding their standards, but those are not even made clear.” The website mentions nothing about sexual orientation, and there is no faith clause, she said.

“I think my big problem with the church and Christian schools is if you’re going to accept folks outside the religion, how do they know what the standards are?” said Lodovico. “If you don’t make those clear, then let’s let kids know what they’re getting into. Let parents know.”

Miller said Aviles was a stand-out at the foundation, which trains students to apply for scholarships to private schools.

“She stood out right away as super confident with a great sense of humor,” said Miller. “She always stuck out that way. She wasn’t a perfect kid, but none of our kids were. We took kids who had potential, the kids who got lost in the shuffle. That’s the kind of kid Rachel was.”

Still, when Aviles sat down to talk about her leaving Master’s, the first thing she said was she didn’t want Master’s to look bad.

“Just because you’ve been wronged doesn’t mean you have the right to wrong back,” said the newest member of Watkinson Class of ’12.

Oh! The irony! The non-believing high school senior, turning the other cheek. That sounds downright Christian, doesn’t it?

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25 more reader comments:

  1. i guess its not a “christian” school then…

    Posted on Thursday, September 8, 2011 at 5:45pm
  2. :(

    Posted on Thursday, September 8, 2011 at 5:45pm
  3. -facepalm-

    Posted on Thursday, September 8, 2011 at 5:48pm
  4. No shit, is this really news??? I attended a church of christ private school that would’ve kicked me out had I’ve been smart enough to let em know what’s up…my 10 year reunioin is this month…fucking wake up motherfuckers, I am sick of this bullshit old news

    Posted on Thursday, September 8, 2011 at 5:49pm
  5. Yeah I was real upsett when Jennifer Nap was shunned due to coming out. I love her christian music, and think she is a hero for coming out.

    Posted on Thursday, September 8, 2011 at 5:52pm
  6. christian and catholic schools have a “dont ask dont tell” policy. i would know, i went to one. i didn’t care what they tried to do to me. i was out and proud all through high school, though i did get sent to guidance for kissing my girlfriend at the time in the hallway after school when no one was really around.

    Posted on Thursday, September 8, 2011 at 5:53pm
  7. It’s great that she came out and I understand it was horrible how the school responded, but I would never want to go back to being “straight” and I hope she feels atleast a little relieved because she revealed herself. Because to me, it’s worth it.

    Posted on Thursday, September 8, 2011 at 5:57pm
  8. Yeah, I thought Christians weren’t supposed to judge? Sounds like this school is judging this girl a lot.

    Posted on Thursday, September 8, 2011 at 6:11pm
  9. Who the hell wants to go to christian skool?

    Posted on Thursday, September 8, 2011 at 6:30pm
  10. thats just fu%$#@ twisted !

    Posted on Thursday, September 8, 2011 at 6:51pm
  11. Shared.

    Posted on Thursday, September 8, 2011 at 6:57pm
  12. don’t like it….. :-(

    Posted on Thursday, September 8, 2011 at 11:48pm
  13. It sounds like its the schools loss, not hers.

    Posted on Friday, September 9, 2011 at 12:45am
  14. Yeah, fuck that shit.

    Posted on Friday, September 9, 2011 at 5:57am
  15. Ugh this makes me so upset! Isn’t this a lawsuit against the school?

    Posted on Friday, September 9, 2011 at 5:58am
  16. wow thats very upsetting , but this is unfortunaltly how the world is at least she is a smart kid an can be prepared for future ignorance…I wish her good luck

    Posted on Friday, September 9, 2011 at 6:05am
  17. Unfortunately that is how most christian school run since they are private. There can be no law suite unless they really want to press. My mom wants me to transfer to a super southern baptist college, DBU, even though she knows I’m gay and could possibly get kicked out if anybody knew!

    Posted on Friday, September 9, 2011 at 6:14am
  18. What seems like an unfair loss right now, this young lady will look back on as a pivotal moment, one in which she chose integrity and stood tall. That single act will beautifully color the rest of her actions and life. Rock on baby, go out there and grab the world by the lapels!

    Posted on Friday, September 9, 2011 at 6:16am
  19. Christ-like behavior? Don’t think so.

    Posted on Friday, September 9, 2011 at 6:25am
  20. WTF.

    Posted on Friday, September 9, 2011 at 6:49am
  21. had a very similar experience when i went to private christian school. I truly believe God loves me just as i am- i think sometimes Christians just get too hung up on the ‘saving’ part or the picture perfect image of what people should be- they loose sight of the point.

    Posted on Friday, September 9, 2011 at 7:17am
  22. I feel sorry for her but unfortunately this is how Christian schools and Universities are. Each student must remain celibate and heterosexual in orientation in nature (Gods Law) while attending the school (it’s in the handbook, that each student gets and usually has to sign), me and my partner had to live lives of secrecy until we completed are studies at Harding University. Now that we both have our degrees and we live as an openly Gay Couple, but the point of the matter is, is that the Girl in the story knew the rules, she came out and that is Great (I’m proud for her) but she also paid the consequences for her actions.. Where’s the story???? My partners brother is being investigated right now at 15 bc the school had a source tell them that him and a friend watched (oh, No!) porn.. There is not a 15 year old out there that hasn’t seen one, but he was caught doing so and that is why he might be kicked out from his Christian high-school. My partner and I faced those very same risk ourselves, if we would have been caught living together, holding hands, kissing, what have you that Harding University had the right to expel us from the University, it’s Not right but it’s the rules and until the hearts of all Christian faiths change (which they will, bc there are those of us going into the churches and changing the minds of faith using the bible) this will continue to happen to anyone of the LGBTQ whom is found out. A sad fact but true.

    Posted on Friday, September 9, 2011 at 7:35am
  23. This is pathetic. It would be different if she was just getting into this school, but its her last year! Thanks to this school this wonderfully smart young lady may not even graduate!

    Posted on Friday, September 9, 2011 at 8:14am
  24. I went to a Christian High school and graduated in 2003, I came out at gay in 2002 and I was almost kicked out for it as well!! I had to recant my statement and almost had to publicly apologize for saying that I was because so many parents were furious that their kids were going to school with someone that was gay. But I got out of it…i did have to go through “spiritual counseling” with the school pastor though and they watched me to make sure I didnt go back on my statement that I wasnt really gay. And since I graduated they made a rule that says nobody who professes to be gay, lesbian, or bisexual or who publicly supports such lifestyles is strictly prohibited and may result in expulsion. And this is NY!!! So all because of me they added a rule like that to the books….but I did still graduate from there, of course in the closet!

    Posted on Saturday, September 10, 2011 at 1:12pm
  25. She should be thrilled . it was the right wing xtians who gave us slavery as per the bible, and then gave us segregation, the KKK etc

    Gays are simply their newest victims.

    The sooner the right wing xtians are all sent to hell, the better. Even the ultra conservative Jews in Israel – two members of the knesset called gays “worse then bird flu” in Jan 2009.

    A call for the genocide of the very people who shared those jews close relatives fate in hitlers ovens (BTW my parents were jewish, my wife is, I am no longer and u can guess why.

    Trash all the right wing churches. The only single piece of religion we should keep is the words of a man 2000 years ago – Love thy neighbor as thyself

    The rest is fluff at best, and the worst of humanities cruelties to each ohter in general.

    And of course how did it get to be this way – its all about money and power, with each feeding the other.

    btw – re the catholic church just google [country name} – catholic church molestation. And be horrified

    And more go to http://nobeliefs.com/nazis.htm to see the truth about the catholic church and WWII

    Posted on Saturday, September 10, 2011 at 1:12pm