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Firing of homosexual employee puts Baptist children’s home in headlines


LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)–A Baptist children’s home ministry has found itself on the front page of the Louisville, Ky., Courier-Journal for firing a homosexual employee, a woman, in October.
The Nov. 18 news coverage prompted a statement by Brenda Gray, vice president for development and communications for the Kentucky Baptist Homes for Children, on behalf of the Kentucky Baptist Convention-related ministry:
“We strive to be fair in our dealings with all people, including, certainly, our employees. At the same time, it is important that we stay true to our Christian values and feel that it is appropriate that our personnel reflect those values. For these reasons, our policy states: ‘Homosexuality is a lifestyle that would prohibit employment with Kentucky Baptist Homes for Children.'”
Gray also stated: “Our ministry is not a ministry of condemnation. … We are trying to provide the very best environment, the very best role models, the very best care we can give [children]. We feel that we’re able to do that through teachers, caregivers and role models who embrace traditional family and sexual values. … We feel that it is important that we stay true to our Christian values and it is appropriate that our personnel reflect those values.”
As to further comment, Gray stated: “Because of privacy concerns, I cannot share more specific information … . Out of respect for our employees, we do not discuss publicly an employee’s relationship with Kentucky Baptist Homes for Children.”
The Courier-Journal, however, reported extensive details regarding the firing of Alicia Pedreira of Louisville after a picture with her homosexual partner — and with Pedreira wearing an “Isle of Lesbos” T-shirt — was displayed in a photo contest at the Kentucky State Fair in August.
Kentucky Baptist Homes for Children provides care for 3,000 children and families each year, making it the largest private childcare program in the state, operating eight residential facilities and 20 counseling sites across the state, overseeing 100 foster homes and, among other ministries, offering a pregnancy counseling and adoption program and a family preservation and family reunification program. Most of the children in the Baptist agency’s care have been placed there by the state of Kentucky.
Five other KBHC employees have resigned in support of Pedreira, hired less than six months ago as an art therapist and supervisor at the ministry’s Spring Meadows Children’s Home in Middletown, The Courier-Journal reported.
Additionally, the University of Louisville’s Kent School of Social Work and Spalding University have withdrawn their students from the children’s home programs contending, as the newspaper put it, that “discrimination against gays is inconsistent with the ethics and ideals of social work.”
The picture, taken by an amateur photographer at a local AIDS walk, had been entered in the contest without Pedreira’s consent, the newspaper stated.
Jack Cox, Pedreira’s supervisor at the Middletown facility and one of the five KBHC employees who has resigned in protest, told The Courier-Journal that Pedreira had acknowledged she is a lesbian when interviewed in May, and Cox said he had told her it wouldn’t pose a problem as long as she didn’t talk about her private life in her work at the children’s home.
The newspaper said Pedreira had earned a positive evaluation in her work prior to her firing Oct. 23.
According to The Courier-Journal, KBHC received about $12 million of its $15.6 million budget last year from state agencies.
The newspaper noted: “The state can withhold money from private child-care contractors that discriminate against women, African Americans and others who are protected by state and federal law. But, said Cary Willis, a spokesman for [Kentucky’s] Cabinet for Families and Children, ‘We can’t base any funding decisions on whether somebody discriminates based on sexual orientation.'”
The newspaper also noted: “… even if Louisville or Jefferson County protected gays from discrimination in employment, such laws probably wouldn’t apply to religious groups. The so-called Fairness Ordinance, for example, defeated three times by the Louisville Board of Aldermen, exempted religious groups when it was proposed last year.’
Pedreira told The Courier-Journal she is considering a court challenge to regain her job.