Two Maryland mothers say their son was unfairly denied admission into a private school, claiming administrators told them their family’s “lifestyle” doesn’t align with the school’s Christian values.
“I just thought, it’s crazy that something like this would still be happening in today’s world,” Megan Stratton said.
Her son, 11-year-old Brayden Stratton, loves sports and music. He plays keyboards, acoustic guitar, bass guitar, violin and ukulele.
As his moms – Jennifer Dane and Megan Stratton – started the process of figuring out where he’ll go to sixth grade next year, they thought it would be a slam dunk getting into Grace Academy in Hagerstown. He’s a good student and they had stellar recommendations from friends who work at the school.
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The couple claims everything was going well, but during an interview with the head of school, things took a turn when they asked a question.
“How is Brayden going to be treated? Is he going to be treated fairly, because we’re a same-sex family?” Stratton said. “And his response after that, I believe, is when it started to go south.”
“He said he couldn't guarantee that,” Dane said.
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Not long after that uncomfortable meeting, they say they got a letter signed by the head of school saying, "We regret to inform you that, due to a lifestyle counter to the Biblical worldview we teach, we have decided to deny enrollment to Grace Academy."
“I mean, it’s just so unfair,” Stratton said.
The couple says administrators tried to backtrack, saying they meant he didn’t get in because their family doesn’t go to church, even refunding the non-refundable application fee after getting a call from a reporter.
“Now, they’re not telling the truth about what ‘the lifestyle’ means,” Stratton said.
Dane heads the nation’s largest LGBTQ service member advocacy group and isn’t afraid of a fight.
“My job is based around advocating for equal rights for folks, and it was just mind blowing, and I couldn’t fathom that it was put into words in a email,” she said.
The couple says at the very least they want an apology, but they’re also looking at legal action.
“We don’t want any extra special treatment for him, just to be treated like any other student,” Stratton said.
As they get ready for summer, Brayden’s moms say they’re a little relieved he won’t be going to Grace Academy, but that doesn’t make the conversations with the 11-year-old any easier.
“Having to tell him, like, it is nothing to do with you, you did everything right, is probably the hardest thing,” Dane said.
“Because this is going to stay with him for the rest of his life, and I don’t know the repercussions of that,” she said.
News4 made several attempts to speak with the head of school and representatives for Grace Academy, but they did not respond.