Both Matt Bosse and Joe Mosca, an Encinitas couple, grew up Catholic and want to share their faith with their children. So when they started to think about a middle school for their older son Garrett, it made sense that they’d look at one of the top private schools in the area, the Santa Fe Christian School.
838 Academy Drive, Solana Beach
The Solana Beach K–12 school has a reputation for high academic standards, strong sports, and wholesome campus life. Garrett had been coached during the summer by one of the school’s lacrosse coaches and he enjoyed the learning experience. Friends from the Episcopalian congregation they belong to spoke well of it, too.
But when they met with admissions director Vicki O’Rourke late last year, it didn’t go well.
“She told us we weren’t a match for the school and made it clear we were not welcome to apply,” Bosse said. “The problem was that Garrett has two dads.”
In January, Bosse said, a member of the school’s board affirmed that the school is not open to same-sex couples — or their children.
“They didn’t give our son a chance,” Bosse said. “Their idea of Christian is not our idea of what it means to be a Christian. That’s not how I was raised.”
The school’s interim head of school Jim Adare said in a written statement that the school does not “attempt to persuade or dissuade prospective families from applying. At the same time, as part of the admissions process, we make clear to prospective applicants that they will be joining a Bible-based community designed to disciple [sic] students to embrace biblical truth.”
The statement ends with the note that the school is privately funded through tuition, donations, and by its “endowers.”
Were the school funded with state and federal funds, discouraging applications as Bosse and Mosca said they did would be illegal and would probably put the school’s funding at risk; not so with private funding.
Encinitas mayor Catherine Blakespear mentioned the “unfortunate incident” in her most recent email to constituents — Mosca serves as deputy mayor in the city. Mosca is an attorney who works for San Diego Gas & Electric, and Bosse is a medical doctor who works for the pharmaceutical company Gilead Sciences, Inc.
They moved to Encinitas after living in London for several years and Mosca quickly began volunteering with their new city. He was appointed to the city council in January 2017 to fill an empty seat; he was appointed deputy mayor in December.
“Our kids are very happy and they are thriving in public schools,” Bosse said. “We didn’t know the extent of the school’s feeling about-same sex couples. We wouldn’t consider sending our child there now that we know they discriminate against people.”
The real shame of it, Mosca said, is that Garrett is being excluded not because of anything he did — he is an altar boy, an A student, a lacrosse player, and a big brother — but because of his fathers.
“At the end of the day, we have the awesome responsibility of raising our sons and we would never subject them to an atmosphere where discrimination is acceptable,” Bosse said. “We want them to be proud of themselves and their family — our every decision comes out of love.”
Their community has rallied around them, Mosca said, and they have so much support that they weren’t hurt the way such rejection can hurt. But they want people to know what happened. Some of their friends whose kids attend the school didn’t know about the policy, he said.
“We are not seeking anything,” Mosca said. “We hope they will look inward and think about their policy and realize it’s a policy of discrimination. That’s not part of the values of people in our community.”
The couple has always talked to their children about the family being a little unusual — in age-appropriate conversations, Bosse said. They don’t want to leave their children unprepared for childish insults and rude questions.
He tells the story of overhearing his son, a few years ago, playing with two other boys when one bragged that he has four apples. The second child upstaged the first with the announcement he has six Matchbox cars. Garrett, he said, paused for a second and then bragged, “I have two fathers.”
“I don’t think this discriminatory policy reflects the values of the families they serve,” says Mayor Blakespear. “Sometimes policies don’t change until someone shines a bright light on them. The exclusion of this model family, with a strong Christian faith, based on them having two dads hopefully provides this impetus for change.”