As the nation works its way through the debate over vouchers and other alternatives to traditional public education funding, a quieter battle over homosexuality, religious education and school tax money is under way in Georgia.
At issue is an increasingly popular tax credit program that transforms state money into private school scholarships, some of them used at religious-based schools that prohibit gay, lesbian or bisexual students from attending.
The policies at more than 100 such schools are explicit.
The 400 students at a private school in Woodstock, for example, must adhere to a policy that states, “Homosexual behavior, whether an ‘immoral act’ or ‘identifying statement,’ is incompatible with enrollment at Cherokee Christian Schools and is a basis for dismissal.”
A male student at the Shiloh Hills Christian School in Kennesaw, who utters “I like boys” or “I am a homosexual” will be expelled.
And at the 800-student Providence Christian Academy 20 miles north of Atlanta, a student who is gay, lesbian or bisexual or supports people who are could be kicked out.
At least 115 religious-based schools in Georgia have severe antigay policies, according to a report issued this month by the Southern Education Foundation. Public information about the scholarship program is limited by law, so the number is probably much higher, according to the foundation, which was founded in 1867 to improve education for poor children in the South. <Read more.>