University Christian School in Duval County, Florida bars homosexuality and expressly states that it’s “grounds for expulsion.” Cedar Creek Christian School says homosexuality and bisexuality “will not be tolerated” at its campus. Eagle’s View Academy will dismiss a student based on that student’s sexual preference OR the sexual preference of the student’s parent/guardian.
An Orlando Sentinel investigation has revealed that 156 Florida schools hold anti-gay views, and those schools have educated nearly 21,000 students with tuition paid for by state scholarships (otherwise known as school vouchers). In 2019, nearly $130 million went to those private Christian institutions.
“That means,” says the Sentinel, “at least 14 percent of Florida’s nearly 147,000 scholarship students last year attended private schools where homosexuality was condemned or, at a minimum, unwelcome.”
Eighty-three schools, according to the Sentinel’s investigation, refuse admission to LGBTQ students. Those same schools will expel LGBTQ students if their sexual preference or gender identity is revealed. Some of the schools will turn away students whose parents are gay, while others will also refuse to hire staffers who are gay.
The other 73 schools on the Sentinel’s list say that being gay or transgender is a sin, but they do not reveal how those views factor into their admissions process or disciplinary policies.
The Sentinel spoke with Suzanne Eckes, a professor in educational leadership and policy studies at Indiana University.
“All students should be welcome at a K-12 school, especially those schools that receive public money,” said Eckes, who has studied school voucher programs. “I think the big question is, ‘Hey citizens of the state of Florida … Do you want your taxpayer money used in this way?”
For their part, the religious schools say they have every right to include their beliefs about sexual orientation and gender identity in school policies, just as parents have the right not to send their kids to those schools.
“Students don’t need to go to that school if they feel that is going to be a problem for their families and their lifestyles,” said Howard Burke, executive director of the Florida Association of Christian Colleges and Schools, in a conversation with the Sentinel.
Florida Taxpayers are Funding Anti-LGBTQ SchoolsPrivate Florida schools that accept tuition vouchers are prohibited by scholarship laws from discriminating against students based on “race, color or national origin.” But those laws do not protect LGBTQ students.