GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Parents, alumni and staff members of Grand Rapids Christian Schools held a private meeting this evening after the Board of Trustees voted to make additions to the staff handbook, defining marriage as only between a man and woman.

“It wasn’t the decision of the parents or the teachers or the students to move forward with this new policy, necessarily,” said Ashley Storm, a parent of a GRCS student.

According to parents, starting the next school year, the staff handbook will state, “Grand Rapids Christian Schools believes that God instituted marriage as biblically defined and historically interpreted to be between a man and a woman.”

Since the district approved this change back in December 2022, parents and community members started a petition to protest the change, which now has more than 2,000 signatures.

“We’ve also been told that this is a policy that affects staff and not students,” said Chris Snyder, a parent of four GRCS students. “But if we are telling students, it’s OK to identify in this way, as a student, but you’re not welcome to come back and teach here, what are we telling the students then?”

Storm, who is a mother of a fourth grader in the district, said after her and her family heard the news, they made the decision to remove their son from the district. He will start a new school in the fall.

“I was just so sad,” she said. “I can’t continue to support or keep my child in a system that’s going to discriminate or marginalize the population of LGBTQ+ individuals that I care so much about.”

News 8 also reached out to GRCS about the changes.

In a statement, district leader said, “The board is committed to continue working together with our teachers and administrators to provide resources needed to nurture the faith and support the mental health and wellbeing of LGBTQ+ students. The board is also taking additional steps to further dialogue with teachers and administrators to reaffirm our commitment to a Reformed perspective.”

Although this only alters the staff handbook, many parents said this could also affect the students.

“That’s one of the big concerns here,” said Snyder. “Teachers will go into these discussions wondering, ‘Is my career going to be at jeopardy if I say the wrong thing, if I show support to a student in the wrong way?’ and that’s really, really sad, and it’s potentially really harmful, especially to kids when they’re at one of the most vulnerable points of their lives.”

Some parents are asking the district to pause implementation of the new policy but that decision is up to leaders of the private school.