Across the country, millions of taxpayer dollars are flowing to private schools that explicitly discriminate against gay students.
That’s the conclusion of a new analysis by the Huffington Post, which examined policies at 7,000 private schools where families can pay tuition using vouchers — an arrangement that U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has said she’d like to see expand. From the story:
We found at least 14 percent of religious schools take an active stance against LGBTQ staff and students. … At least 5 percent of these schools also have explicit policies against hiring or retaining LGBTQ staff.
On the other hand, we also found many schools that have policies specifically protecting students from discrimination based on sexual orientation.
The story’s analysis and conclusions map closely to those of an investigation we published this summer into how Indiana schools that accept vouchers treat LGBT students. That state has the country’s largest voucher program, and almost every participating school is religious. We found that one in 10 schools receiving vouchers explicitly discriminates against LGBT students — and that those schools netted $16 million in state funding last year.
DeVos has sent mixed messages on such policies. She’s told Congress that discrimination is wrong “in any form,” and emphasized that all students should feel safe at school. But she’s also said that states should continue to make their own choices about voucher policy.
The Huffington Post story offers a searing example of the effects that discrimination can have. The story, by Rebecca Klein, looks at what has happened to 12-year-old Sunnie Kahle in the three years since she was turned away from her private Christian school in Virginia for not being feminine enough.
“They pretty much ruined a little girl’s life,” Kahle’s grandmother told Klein.