Embattled Twin Peaks Charter Academy will keep its lawyer, Barry Arrington, despite a request from Congressman Jared Polis that Arrington, who has an anti-gay track record, be fired.
“Mr. Arrington is a highly qualified attorney and is not being removed as counsel from Twin Peaks Charter Academy,” the school’s spokeswoman Tracy Weise told The Colorado Independent in an email. “Mr. Polis has no jurisdiction, and is completely overstepping his bounds to even suggest that he has the right, to make recommendations on how Twin Peaks Charter Academy is managed.”
Arrington raised eyebrows this week in a back-and-forth with Polis, who has been critical of the school’s decision not to let valedictorian Evan Young give a graduation speech in which he came out as gay. Polis has asked for a third-party investigation of the school’s decision and overall inclusiveness, ideally conducted by a LGBTQ-rights group.
Arrington used strong language in asserting that Polis, who does not directly represent the district in which Twin Peaks is located, was playing politics and suggesting that the school undergo “Maoist-style thought reform.”
For his part, Arrington has written publicly about the necessity of heterosexuality as a function of intelligent design. He also represented defendants, including Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, charged with using a gay couple’s engagement photo for a political attack ad without their knowledge or permission. Arrington is also the former president of the Rocky Mountain Family Council, the mission of which is, “to promote God’s design for parents and children by supporting families.”
Beyond LGBTQ issues, Arrington also has a legal history of advocating for morality-based limits on free speech. Back in 1994, he was one of the primary advocates of a state amendment that would “allow every local government in the state to define what’s obscene.” The anti-obscenity amendment was backed by the Christian conservatives at Focus on the Family and some of the wealthiest people in Denver, but it ultimately failed with two-thirds of Coloradans voting against it.
“Mr. Arrington has a long history of working for anti-LGBT organizations and using his blog to condemn same-sex relationships. Because Twin Peaks Charter Academy is keeping him on as counsel, they seem to have no problem with his public views concerning LGBT people,” said Dave Montez, director of LGBTQ-rights group One Colorado. “Every school in Colorado should be safe for all students and we are concerned that having an attorney on staff with clear ties to anti-LGBT organizations is preventing the school from being welcoming of all students.”
On Friday, Weise confirmed that Twin Peaks has contracted with an outside law firm to do a review of the Young speech decision. The Saint Vrain Valley School District board will vote this week about whether to support that move. Weise said the school has not contracted with Arrington or his firm for the investigation, as it would be a conflict of interest due to his current employment with the school.
“It would be inappropriate,” she said.
Image by Eric Drooker.