In total, more than 115 of the private schools which participate in the program explicitly forbid gay and lesbian students from attending, according to the report. That’s roughly one-fourth of all the private schools in the program.
From the report:
Georgia’s tax credit scholarship program has diverted more than $170 million in taxpayer funds to cover the tuition costs of students in private schools during the last four years. The program permits individual and corporate taxpayers to divert a portion of their state taxes – a dollar-for-dollar reduction in taxes – to provide public financing to private organizations called student scholarship organizations (SSOs). In turn, these SSOs provide funds to private schools for all or part of a student’s tuition.
At least 115 private schools participating in Georgia’s tax-funded scholarship program have explicit, severe anti-gay policies or belong to state and national private school associations that promote anti-gay policies and practices among their members. These schools constitute approximately one-fourth of all private schools that are currently affiliated with SSOs in Georgia’s tax-funded scholarship program. Even more religious schools, many involved in the state tax credit program, use textbooks and curriculum materials in the classrooms condemning both homosexuality and gays.
More than 11 states have similar programs, according to the New York Times. And as these types of programs continue to gain popularity across the country, it will raise the question of the constitutionality of granting state-funded tax dollars to institutions with anti-gay policies.
With perhaps as much as a half a billion dollars going to tax credit scholarship programs across the U.S. next year, this is a question of constitutional law, public policy, and personal conscience that must be answered sooner rather than later. And the answer should be loud and clear: public funds should not support schools that exclude, condemn, and demonize students for who they are and who they accept in their lives. Tax dollars should go to schools that educate all students. That is the promise and virtue of our democracy.
One can only wonder how long it will be before SSOs are met with legal challenges over who received those funds.