By Andrew Pillow
Can a school that uses public money discriminate based on sexuality or gender identity?
That is the question that senate democrats are demanding an answer to.
Every state allots a certain amount of money per student. Usually a few thousand dollars. Traditionally this money is reserved for public schools, leaving students that want to go to private institutions to pay their own way. Vouchers however, allow students to take their allotted money from the state, and use it at private schools as well.
While this is seen as controversial, the voucher system does have some bi-partisan support. However, democrats have cried foul at religious schools that take public money and deny enrollment to LGBT students.
Enter the Lighthouse Christian Academy. A small K-12 Christian school in Bloomington Indiana has caught the eye of democrats because while around half the school's population uses public vouchers, and received around $665,000 in public funds this year, the school maintains the right to deny enrollment to LGBT students.
Lighthouse Christian Academy has a publicly view-able admission’s brochure and it very clearly states that the school reserves the right to deny entry to prospective students based on sexual oreintation or gender identity:
“The Bible prohibits specific behaviors and limits marriage to a covenant relationship between a man and a woman (Genesis 2:21-25; Ephesians 5:22-33). LCA will instruct students in these teachings. Behaviors prohibited in the Bible include, but are not limited to:
Heterosexual activity outside of one man-one-woman marriage. For example, premarital sex, cohabitation, or adultery (John 8:1-11; I Corinthians 6:9-20; Hebrews 13:4);
Homosexual or bisexual activity or any form of sexual immorality (Romans 1:21-27; I Corinthians 6:9-20);
Practicing alternate gender identity or any other identity or behavior that violates God’s ordained distinctions between the two sexes, male and female (Genesis 1:26-27; Deuteronomy 22:5);”
Officials from the school claimed that they have never actually invoked this clause. However, that hasn’t stopped senate democrats from using the school as an example of lack of private school accountability in regards to civil rights.
Betsy DeVos who is already embroiled in another civil rights controversy, says that while discrimination is wrong, it is the job of the state to decide how to handle it, not the department of education.
The Trump administration has pledged more support for school choice initiatives so it is likely that this will become an issue of greater focus for both school choice opposition, and LGBT advocates within the school choice movement itself.