President Donald Trump heaped praise on Karen Pence, the wife of Vice President Mike Pence, at Thursday’s National Prayer Breakfast for teaching art to students at a Christian school in Northern Virginia.
Not surprisingly, Trump overlooked the school’s policy of barring LGBTQ children and LGBTQ employees from its doors.
“She just went back to teaching art classes at a Christian school,” he said in an endorsement of Pence’s strong faith, claiming he has grown to know her well.
“Terrific woman,” Trump added.
The LGBTQ advocacy group GLAAD called his comments “disturbing.”
The president went on to stress his administration’s support for other forms of faith-based discrimination, providing as an example one Michigan Catholic agency that refuses to work with gay parents.
Pence, a painter and illustrator who taught art for decades, began teaching elementary students at Immanuel Christian School two days per week earlier this year. She and her husband are notoriously hostile to LGBTQ rights.
As HuffPost previously reported, the school does not provide a welcoming environment. A “parent agreement” posted online states that the school has the right to refuse admission to any student who participates in or condones homosexual activity, while employees must sign a pledge against violating the “unique roles of male and female.”
Amid the backlash over Pence’s employer, an LGTBQ advocacy group called The Trevor Project sent Immanuel Christian 100 copies of a pro-equality children’s book, A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo. (The book had been created by The Trevor Project and comedian John Oliver in response to a children’s story the Pence family wrote and illustrated that was centered on the Pence family rabbit.)
Yet Pence’s office defended her choice to teach at the school, saying the attention brought to its policies was not warranted.
“It’s absurd that her decision to teach art to children at a Christian school, and the school’s religious beliefs, are under attack,” Pence’s communication director, Kara Brooks, said in a statement. She would not say whether Karen Pence agreed with the discriminatory policies.