AP NEWS

Wisconsin Supreme Court candidate helped found academy that bans homosexual teachers, students

February 14, 2019

Conservative-backed Wisconsin Supreme Court candidate Brian Hagedorn helped found a Christian academy that bans teachers and students for homosexual activity.

The K-8 Augustine Academy, which Hagedorn and his wife Christina helped found in 2016, employs a code of personal conduct that lists “immoral sexual activity” by teachers, staff, board members, students or their parents as grounds for dismissal.

Hagedorn’s involvement with the school, first revealed by liberal advocacy group One Wisconsin Now, has prompted criticism from advocacy organizations that Hagedorn, who has been critical of gay rights court rulings, can’t be trusted to treat members of the LGBT community fairly under the law.

The school’s code of personal conduct defines immoral sexual activity as “any form of touching or nudity for the purpose of evoking sexual arousal apart from the context of marriage between one man and one woman.”

Engagement in immoral sexual activity by faculty, staff or board members is grounds for dismissal, while the failure of a student to abide by the code of moral conduct could result in a student “being required to withdraw from the school.”

Students could also be dismissed if their parents have gay sex or otherwise violate the code of conduct, such as drinking excessively, viewing pornography, making lewd comments or consuming illegal drugs.

“On the campaign trail, Brian Hagedorn has asked voters to trust he will set aside his strongly held homophobic beliefs,” said One Wisconsin Now executive director Analiese Eicher in a statement. “His actions tell a different story.”

In a statement, Hagedorn spokesman Stephen Thompson described OWN’s criticism as an attack on Hagedorn’s faith, “smearing” him for bettering the lives of children.

“Judge Hagedorn treats everyone fairly under the law,” Thompson said. “His job is to say what the law is and not what he thinks the law should be. He is running for the Supreme Court to protect religious freedoms for all Wisconsinites, regardless of faith.”

Tyler Hendricks, a spokesman for Hagedorn’s opponent, the liberal-backed Lisa Neubauer, questioned whether Hagedorn could have integrity on the court.

“From his extreme writings on constitutional issues, to his time as Scott Walker’s chief lawyer, to founding and supervising a school that discriminates against students and teachers — Wisconsinites will need to decide whether Brian Hagedorn can set aside his personal partisan views and be a fair and impartial judge on our state’s highest court,” Hendricks said.

This story will be updated.