Gay Dads Say School Pastor Threatened Them, Banned One From Campus
Author: Christopher Wiggins
A gay stepfather in Arizona said he was told last month that he could not step foot on his stepdaughter’s school campus because he and the girl’s father are gay. Now the girl’s dad is worried about what effect the school’s worldview is having on his daughter.
The father of the 10-year-old girl says his ex-wife moved from California to Arizona and enrolled their daughter in a religious school without his knowledge, but that after he and his husband also moved closer to the child, the pastor who runs the school told the couple they were unwelcome and threatened them because of their sexual orientation.
Don Williams and Jose Ortega tell The Advocate that staff at Heart Cry Christian Academy in Queen Creek — Williams’ ex-wife enrolled their 10-year-old daughter there — informed them gay couples are not welcome. Then, according to Williams, they were physically threatened by Pastor Billy Van Camp.
Heart Cry Christian Academy is the brainchild of the concrete business owner.
In late January, when they arrived at the school to pick up Williams’ daughter, Van Camp told Ortega and Williams that they were not welcome on school property, explaining that parents send their children to Heart Cry to keep them safe from gay people, Williams says.
Ortega asked Van Camp if he was threatening him, and Van Camp allegedly responded, “Try me.”
Williams says that he and his husband perceived that as a threat and decided not to put themselves in harm’s way by defying Van Camp’s warning.
Van Camp has a history of anti-LGBTQ+ beliefs.
According to the East Valley Tribune, in 2011, Van Camp expressed disgust at including a photo of a lesbian couple in the Queen Creek High School yearbook. After he first threatened to remove his kids from school for exposure to objectionable materials, he finally did so after starting his school.
“We have problems in our schools,” Van Camp said at the time, noting that hundreds of parents were disappointed in the yearbook. “We’ve lost control of our kids. It worries me. My heart hurts, and I just pray for our people.”
The private school’s principal, Lisa Van Camp, is Billy’s wife, and the couple’s son, Trey Van Camp, was on staff at Heart Cry Church as an Associate Pastor before moving on to his own ministry.
Williams says that he and his ex-wife, Regina, divorced in 2012, before the birth of their daughter, after growing apart. He says she disapproves of gay people.
“She’s not okay with homosexuality. She’s against it. She thinks it’s a sin,” Williams says. “She has put it in our daughter’s head that it’s not okay. And so she’s been adamant about putting her into a religious school.”
He says he’s fine with his ex-wife’s religion, but that she found a school that is entirely against him and his husband.
“I honestly believe she did that on purpose,” he says. Williams believes that his daughter is being poisoned against him and his husband by his ex-wife’s influence.
“[My daughter] interacts with us great; it’s just that when I talk to her, she feels guilty,” Williams says.
“I think her grandma was the one who said that we’re living in sin,” he adds. “And to her, it’s confusing knowing that she loves us and I’m her father, yet there’s a negative [influence] from the other side.”
Williams says that according to the former couple’s California divorce agreement, his ex-wife has primary custodial custody and the right to choose where their daughter goes to school. “I need to go back to court here in Arizona since we’ve been residents here now and start the whole process all over again and request to have that change to both parents agreeing on the school,” he explains.
Williams notes that when his daughter stays with him and Ortega, only Williams can take her to school or pick her up because Van Camp has barred Ortega from campus because he disapproves of the couple’s relationship.
Van Camp did not respond to The Advocate’s request for comment. Regina Williams also has yet to respond to The Advocate’s inquiries.
In 2022, Van Camp told the Gilbert Sun News that he was less interested in religion and more interested in solid relationships. He was interviewed to discuss a cowboy church he started, where he preaches to a rodeo-style crowd outdoors.
“I’m trying to reach the people who would never pull into the parking lot of an organized church,” Van Camp said. “I just want to reach the people who aren’t churchy. I hate religion. I love relationship[s].”
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Original Article on The Advocate
Author: Christopher Wiggins