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This report is the third installation of HuffPost’s ongoing research about private schools that receive taxpayer dollars through voucher or tax credit programs, which have been a priority forU.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. HuffPost created a database of more than 7,000 schools in 25 states and the District of Columbia with private school choice programs that give public money to private religious schools.
Reporters visited the website for each school in the database to search for evidence of their attitudes and policies on gender-nonconforming and LGBTQ students. The site found at least 14 percent of religious schools take an active stance against LGBTQ staff and students.
Policies at these schools ranged from generally broadcasting their opposition to same-sex marriage to specifically stating that students discovered to live a “homosexual lifestyle” could be expelled.
The publication also found that voucher programs across the country—with the exception of those in Maryland—don’t have protections preventing discrimination against LGBTQ students.
Public school advocates on Twitter added that private schools often get accused of discriminating against other marginalized students.
They also discriminate against special ed kids, kids of color AND 100% of their teachers don’t have to have Bachelor degree & be highly qualified like public school teachers do. Para also don’t have to have degrees or be certified at Charter schools like have 2b at public schools— Sheila Humphries (@sheilafaye01_g) December 15, 2017
Oh that's some BS right there. That's despicable. Why are we allowing the gov't to hurt children for political gain? Here's a novel idea, let's treat all humans as equally worthy of respect & dignity regardless of our differences b/c we're all human, dammit.— Kelli Crackel (@KelliCrackel) December 15, 2017
School choice advocates argue that bullying against LGBTQ students is a universal problem and not something that private schools should take responsibility for.
“I abhor discrimination and I would hope that schools would not discriminate against LGBTQ students even if the issue is part of their statements of faith,” wrote Robert Enlow, CEO and president of EdChoice, an education reform group, in an email. “I also recognize, though, that we live in a pluralistic society that values choice, individual freedom and an abiding respect for all faiths. I trust parents to make the best choices for their kids based on their shared values and goals.”
Tess Cagle is a reporter who focuses on politics, lifestyle, and streaming entertainment. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Texas Monthly, the Austin American-Statesman, Damn Joan, and Community Impact Newspaper. She’s also a portrait, events, and live music photographer in Central Texas.