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.
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.”