Images via Covenant Christian School and Devin Bryant

HE looks such a kindly geezer, but Dr Tony Jeffrey, inset, is now deservedly being branded in news reports and social media as a vindictive old bigot following news that he expelled star pupil Devin Bryant, above, from the Covenant Christian Academy for being an out-and-proud gay student.

The move came just weeks after Jeffrey, formerly from the Providence Christian School in Texas, was appointed the academy’s new headmaster.

According to this report, when his mother, Consolata Bryant was informed her son, aged 17, couldn’t return to the school, she had a question for the headmaster:

Are you a Christian? Jesus would not do what you are doing.

His response?

I’m doing what Jesus would want me to do.

Blogger James Finn yesterday revealed that Devin, who is a high school senior this year, had attended Covenant since he was a toddler in their pre-K programme. He earned straight-As, medaled in sports programmes, and participated in extracurricular clubs. His mother says his teachers liked him and considered him a model student.

Seniors at Covenant receive reserved parking spaces, usually decorating them with original artwork – by tradition a little on the outrageous side. Devin submitted a design last year that included these words: “Super Hot, Fun, Attractive, Fast-driving, Insane, Very Smart, Outgoing, Party Freak, Young, Gay (as in happy don’t worry lol), Pretty, Reckless, Humble, Pyromaniac, Fun, Gay (as in homosexual this time, sorry) Person Parking Only.”

Covenant’s booster club rejected his design, and the [then] principal called him in for an “emergency” meeting. Devin says he agreed to omit the word ‘gay’ and “promised to not be as vocal about my sexuality for the rest of the year.”

Devin says he believed everything would be fine, as long as he kept his word, saying administrators told him twice their priority was to keep him in school.

Four days before the start of school this year, however, his mother received a phone call from Jeffrey, saying he’d had expelled Devin and that no appeal was possible.

Devin told the Dallas Observer:

I know of people who have gotten in trouble for stuff way worse than what I did and they were disciplined more lightly than me, which definitely leads me to believe that it wasn’t the content of the artwork I sent in that got me kicked out.

Jeffrey told Ms Bryant that if he had attended last year’s meeting about Devin’s proposed art, he would have:

Instantly expelled him.

In an an email to the Observer, Jeffrey said all Covenant students must adhere to religious guidelines in the student handbook, which mandates:

Adhering to the biblical principal [sic] that the expression of human sexuality is appropriate only within the boundaries of a marital relationship between one man and one woman.

Just as this image (provided by Freethinker reader Jim Jones in the comments section of an earlier report) indicates:

Jeffrey had never met or spoken with Devin, but Ms Bryant told the Observer Jeffrey said her son:

Had chosen an evil path that was contrary to the Bible.

She says the headmaster told her explicitly that Jesus wanted him to expel Devin for admitting he was gay.

Commenting on the expulsion, James Finn said:

Devin is probably going to be OK. No Ivy League school is going to hold his sexual orientation against him. He will possibly be able to leverage his oppression in his favor. Harvard and Yale will not reject him just because Covenant did.

But Covenant is inflicting a great deal of harm, nonetheless. Remember, they didn’t expel Devin for behavior. He wasn’t caught having sex, drinking alcohol, or doing drugs. The only thing he’s guilty of is wanting to tell people the truth.

He’s sexually and romantically attracted to people of his own gender, and there’s literally nothing he can do about it. Evidence shows that keeping sexual orientation a secret causes psychological harm that often leads to mental illness and even suicide attempts …

I’ll leave detailed Christian commentary to those more expert than I, but I’m shaking my head as I type. Nothing about the Jesus I learned about in church or in history upholds the Covenant headmaster’s stand on persecuting people for merely being members of human minorities.

Indeed, I thought the opposite was true.

I thought Jesus took a pretty firm stand about not harming children and strangers.

He added:

Tragically, in the United States, religious schools like Covenant can persecute LGBTQ students all they like. Religious exemptions to non-discrimination laws leave them free to exclude and expel LGBTQ students and to model bigotry to cis/straight students.

In some parts of the United States, only fringe schools can get away socially with such unjust discrimination, but in Texas, hurting LGBTQ kids is still pretty cool with most people. Devin Bryant isn’t the first and certainly won’t be the last gay teenager to lose opportunities because he was honest about who is he.

It’s time for people everywhere to stand up for scapegoats like Devin. It’s time for us to raise up our voices in roaring disapproval. It’s not OK to hurt kids. Not ever. Especially not for having the courage to tell the truth.

In July, Covenant Christian Academy profiled Jeffrey, saying:

CCA is honored to welcome our own Eagle Scout, Dr. Tony Jeffrey, our new headmaster. His life experience reflects character, commitment, a desire to serve others, and a love of learning. Dr. Jeffrey was raised in Fairmont, Minnesota, and received Christ as his Savior at the age of sixteen while attending Summit Ministries’ worldview summer camp in Manitou Springs, Colorado.

He received his BBA degree in Biblical Studies from American Christian College in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He went on to earn his Th.M. degree from Dallas Theological Seminary and his Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration from the University of North Texas.

All those letters after his name, and he’s still as stupid and nasty as only a Christian fundie can be.

Hat tip: BarrieJohn

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