At a recent meeting of the Leander ISD Board in Texas, a board member urged for the district to cut ties with Concordia University Texas due to their conservative views. The university has an existing partnership that gives high schoolers access to college courses and credits; however, this individual feels it should no longer be allowed.

Board member Gloria Gonzales-Dholakia pointed out that the university’s restrictive stances on important topics such as LGBTQ+ rights and abortion were not consistent with the district’s emphasis on acceptance and inclusion. Consequently, she vigorously pressed for ending their partnership and searching for a new institution to collaborate with instead.

The remarks by Gonzales-Dholakia were received with polarized responses from the board and audience. While some concurred with her position that a university that disagrees with the district’s values should not receive its patronage, many others argued that ending this partnership would harm students’ education opportunities.

The debate surrounding the connection between religious institutions and public schools is a complicated one. On one hand, it’s essential that secularism prevails in public education; however, private entities such as faith-based organizations have the right to their own values and beliefs. Striking an appropriate balance between these two opposing views can be difficult but absolutely necessary for ensuring fairness among all parties involved.

This partnership between the district and the university is entirely voluntary, giving students access to college-level courses and credits that would otherwise be inaccessible. Although it’s understandable for some people to have hesitations about the university’s values, we must acknowledge how immensely this collaboration benefits these young individuals.

It’s essential to recognize the right of private institutions, including conservative Christian universities like this one, to uphold their values and beliefs—even if that means a divergence from our own standards. Although we may not always concur with these viewpoints, it is worth noting that they are typical for religious organizations similar to this one. Respectful acknowledgment of different perspectives stands as an integral part of diversity in society today.

Simultaneously, it is essential for public schools to ensure that students of all beliefs and identities feel accepted and safe. If any issues arise surrounding the partnership between a school district and university regarding these matters, then it is crucial that they be addressed immediately in order to create an accepting atmosphere where everyone can thrive.

Ultimately, the decision of sustaining a relationship with Concordia University Texas will likely boil down to weighing contrasting priorities. On one hand, there are numerous benefits that come from college-level courses and credits made accessible through their partnership. Yet on the other side of things is anxiety surrounding if their values coincide with our district’s pledge towards inclusivity and diversity.

No matter what is decided, each individual should approach the situation with respect and empathy. We can have differing opinions while still being respectful of one another’s perspectives; this encourages diversity within our student body as well as a safe learning environment. When we engage in meaningful dialogue and collaborate together, we create an atmosphere that prioritizes education and wants everyone to succeed!