According to a report recently released by the Southern Education Foundation, some scholarship money generated through a Georgia tax credit program has been used at religious schools that ban gay, lesbian and bisexual students.
And, those schools should not be given the public funding, the report asserts.
At least two of the schools named in the report are located in Gwinnett County:
- Hebron Christian Academy in Dacula
- Providence Christian Academy in Lilburn
In 2008, legislators established a tax credit program to allow individual and corporate taxpayers to contribute to qualified student scholarship organizations and receive a dollar-for-dollar credit against their Georgia income tax liabilities. SSOs provide the funds to private schools for all or part of a student’s tuition.
Although the amounts awarded to each school are unknown, more than $170 million in taxpayer funds have been set aside to cover the tuition costs of students in private schools during the last four years.
And, the Southern Education Foundation knows of at least 115 private schools in the tax credit scholarship program that have severe anti-gay policies or belong to state and national private school associations that promote anti-gay policies, according to the report.
"Altogether, as much as one-third of all private schools participating in Georgia’s tax credit scholarship program may be governed by the schools’ explicit anti-gay policies or their church’s anti-gay statements of faith," the report reads.
And that count, according to the report, is likely an understatement.
The Southern Education Foundation does not take issue with the policies of the schools. They have a constitutional right to believe whatever they want to believe and to operate their private affairs in accordance with those beliefs, the foundation said.
But schools that "exclude, condemn, and demonize students for who they are and who they accept in their lives" should not receive public funds, the foundation wrote in its report. "Tax dollars should go to schools that educate all students. That is the promise and virtue of our democracy."
Click here to read the full report from the Southern Education Foundation. It is also attached to this article as a PDF. Click here to read about other metro Atlanta schools listed in the report.
Should public money be used to assist needy families who want to send their children to private schools with explicit anti-gay policies? Tell us in the comment section below.