The gig has provoked much anger, but even the most disgusted — perhaps especially the most disgusted — should be thankful for one thing: the school is private.
If it weren’t for private schools, people with Pence’s conservative religious beliefs would have no choice but to try to impose them on every child. Unfortunately for us all, many Americans do not have such choice.
People have every right, of course, to condemn Pence, the school and beliefs they find bigoted. But they shouldn’t assume that the views they despise have disappeared in all but the Pence household and a few other holdouts, as some commenters suggested in their responses, and hence are no threat to public schools.
Acceptance of homosexuality has expanded remarkably over the last 15 years, but a May 2018 Gallup poll still found that 30 percent of Americans believed “gay or lesbian relations” were “morally wrong,” and a 2014 Pew survey found that in five states at least pluralities believed that homosexuality “should be discouraged.” No doubt many local communities have majorities holding such views.
But hasn’t religion been ejected from public schools by the U.S. Supreme Court? The court has judged any official religious practice unconstitutional, but there are still some public schools where overt religious activity persists, and many others where religious beliefs inevitably play a part.
The exact extent to which public schools reflect religious beliefs is unknown, but we have some clues it isn’t trivial. In 2010, political scientists Michael Berkman and Eric Plutzer reported that a large majority of high school biology teachers soft‐pedaled evolution, and as high as 21 percent endorsed creationism or its cousin, intelligent design, in their classes.